Outstanding Teaching Learning and Assessment (OTLA)

The Education and Training Foundation (ETF) has, since its inception, supported a range of activity to improve teaching, from small scale projects involving single departments or individuals to region-wide activities promoting change and sharing of effective practice.

This work focused on empowering practitioners to focus on effective practice that is most helpful for their own challenges. The wide range of activity was brought together under the banner of Outstanding Teaching Learning and Assessment (OTLA) which ran from 2015 to 2022. 

Our work in this field drew on wider educational improvement activity and was based on evidence and research, much of it carried out by practitioners as part of their projects. It focused at all times on improving professional practice, outcomes for learners, and improving the pedagogic or vocational skills of those involved.

The Professional Standards for Teachers and Trainers formed a cornerstone of this activity.  There have been over 200 OTLA collaborative projects since 2015 with thousands of practitioners getting involved in action research projects which have tackled a wide range of issues relating to teaching, learning and assessment.


Download Action Research resources


Although the OTLA programme is no longer running, you can access case studies and resources developed by practitioners through past projects on the Improving Teaching exhibition site and further information and resources regarding action research and practitioner research, can be found on the Practitioner and Research Evidence Portal.

The Practitioner Research Sharing Event taking place on 11 and 13 July 2022 will also showcase inspiring examples from the OTLA programme.

In the Spring of 2021, Dr Lynne Taylerson undertook a thematic review into the outcomes of the Outstanding Teaching Learning and Assessment (OTLA) 6 projects. She wrote a series of blogpost based on her review exploring: 

OTLA evaluation report

In 2021, the ETF commissioned SQW to undertake a process and impact evaluation of its practitioner research programmes which includes the OTLA programme delivered by Claire Collins Consultancy on behalf of the ETF.

The aim of the evaluation was to assess the impact on participants’ professional practice, provider performance and learner outcomes, compare the effectiveness of activity delivered through the programmes, recommend improvements to strengthen programme quality and maximise impact, and finally, inform the ETF’s future investment and design decisions.

A summary of the main findings is presented at the beginning of the report.

Download the Practitioner Research final evaluation report.