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 activity promoting change and sharing of effective practice.

This work focuses on empowering practitioners to focus on effective practice that is most helpful for their own challenges. The wide range of activity that we deliver is brought together under the banner of Outstanding Teaching Learning and Assessment (OTLA). 

Our work in this field draws on wider educational improvement activity and is based on evidence and research, much of it carried out by practitioners as part of our projects. It is 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 form a cornerstone of this activity. 

There have been over 200 OTLA collaborative projects since 2015 which have tackled a wide range of issues relating to teaching, learning and assessment. Each year we offer FE providers the opportunity to apply to take part in an OTLA collaborative project on a specific area of practice. This year (2021-2022) Claire Collins Consultancy on behalf of the ETF will be running an OTLA collaborative project in English, ESOL and Essential Digital Skills.


Download Action Research resources


You can access case studies and resources developed by practitioners through past OTLA 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.

Participant feedback

“You could say I entered into the digital revolution that we now find ourselves in by dragging my heels. I was not the most enthusiastic advocate for the use of technology, when let’s face it the exam is on paper! Through participating in the OTLA 7 action research project my confidence has grown tremendously. I have completed some truly wonderful CPD with the ETF and I cannot thank the OTLA enough for all the support they have given me and the team.

“Being a part of the project has allowed me to focus and develop digital learning in a way that I would not have done without the project. The action research has enabled me to be a part of the digital journey and I feel that I have; with the learners, participated in this adventure together. The opportunities to reflect and hear feedback from learners has opened up a different approach and is something which has been incredibly valuable not just to myself, but the team as a whole.

“I now feel confident to try new approaches and embed digital learning to enhance maths lessons rather than feel that it is something which I would try and fit in at the end of the lesson.

“I am truly humbled and amazed by not only the learners’ openness and adaptability to new approaches, but also the team as a whole. Joe (project team lead) has led the project in such a way that we have all felt part of it and has brought us a team closer together. I am now looking forward to our next steps and continuing the great work that the project has enabled us to achieve.”

Sophie George, Course Director – GCSE maths at Basingstoke College of Technology

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: 

Applications for the OTLA programme are now closed. The closing date to receive applications was Monday 2 August 2021.

For general enquiries regarding the OTLA programme, please contact Jaya Varsani.