The OTLA 6 Programme

The OTLA 6 programme was delivered by ccConsultancy in partnership with That Reading Thing and Skills Digital between 2019 and 2020. This was the 6th phase of OTLA projects funded by the Education and Training Foundation and the 3rd one that we were involved in as delivery partners.

Twelve projects researched new approaches for teaching English in the post-16 sector and focused upon driving professional development for staff through encouraging practitioners to use action research to explore and integrate those approaches into teaching, learning and assessment.

In April 2019 we invited applications from providers wishing to take part in the OTLA (English) collaborative projects, hoping to attract 30 applications. We drew upon Professional Exchange Networks, Regional Specialist Leads and the Skills for Life Network to maximise applications from across the country. In fact, we received over 100 applications and eventually selected 45 organisations to take part. Twelve projects were formed, each consisting of 3 or 4 successful organisations who wanted to work on a similar theme.

Each project was allocated a mentor. The mentors were chosen for their subject specialist expertise and in many cases, they arranged and delivered relevant CPD for the project teams (e.g. Post-16 phonics approaches, effective use of a visualiser, Level 5 Functional Skills courses). Mentors also assisted project teams to use practitioner-led action research approaches. Click the link below to read Andy Convery reflecting on the importance of mentors in energising project teams.

We also appointed four Strand Leads who each managed a group of 3 projects and supported the mentors and project teams within their ‘strand’. The strands were mainly arranged geographically but there were some exceptions where we placed organisations into projects because of the theme they were working on (The Sheffield College worked on resilience with a group of providers who were based in the South, for example). Three of the Strand Leads were Regional Specialist Leads and had good working relationships with the providers in their region. The fourth Strand Lead is an expert on Post-16 phonics and worked on that theme across all regions.

We have invited the Strand Leads to reflect on their experiences of working on the OTLA programme and you can find their summaries on the project pages of their particular strands.

You can download the full programme booklet with all reports and editorials on the Excellence Gateway.

Click the project numbers on the map below to be directed to each project page. There you will be able to read each organisation’s research report, watch their final presentations and access further resources.


Claire Collins

Project Director, ccConsultancy

How Project Mentors Energise Practitioner Research

Dr Andy Convery

Research and Professional Development Lead, ccConsultancy Associate


Professor Jean McnNiff

Research Consultant, ccConsultancy Associate

Other projects I’ve been part of have not explained everything so clearly about action research, involving learners, scope, evaluation… Thanks!

Inspiring seeing the work that’s happening in our wonderful sector. Loads of transferable, learner-centred ideas underpinned by rigorous, action research methodologies 🙂

What an opportunity to take time our of the frenetic world of FE and develop new initiatives to support student learning and learn ourselves.