Book Chapter

Professional Enquiry: an ecological approach to developing teacher agency



Priestley M & Drew V (2019) Professional Enquiry: an ecological approach to developing teacher agency. In: Godfrey D & Brown C (eds.) An ecosystem for research-engaged schools: Reforming education through research. London: Routledge, pp. 154-170.

It has become fashionable in recent years to discuss practitioner research, both in relation to the 'teacher-as-researcher' and a more general conception of the research-engaged teacher. Such discussion have taken on a sharper focus, with the advent since the turn of the millennium of new forms of national curricula that stress the active role of the teacher as a curriculum maker – and yet, this is problematic in terms of teachers' capacity to both engage with research and develop the curriculum. This chapter focuses on an initiative in Scotland, which sought to enhance teachers’ capacity for curriculum making, utilising the methodology of Critical Collaborative Professional Enquiry. The chapter illustrates, using an ecological understanding of teacher agency, how teachers' agency in curriculum making increased as their confidence and professional knowledge grew, as they developed supportive and focused professional networks, and as their contexts for curriculum development were tailored to explicitly encourage sustainable innovation. The chapter draws upon qualitative data generated from three cohorts of participating teachers, including artefacts from the programme, programme evaluations and one-to-one interviews.

Professional learning; Curriculum development; Curriculum making; Collaborative professional enquiry; Practitioner research; Teacher agency

Publication date31/12/2019
Publication date online27/03/2019
Publisher URL…ok/9781138574465
Place of publicationLondon

People (2)


Dr Valerie Drew

Dr Valerie Drew

Lecturer in Education Leadership, Education

Professor Mark Priestley

Professor Mark Priestley

Professor, Education