The OTLA 8 (English, ESOL and Essential Digital Skills) Action Research Programme

The OTLA (English, ESOL and Essential Digital Skills) programme was delivered by ccConsultancy in partnership with That Reading Thing, NATECLA and Skills Digital. This was the 8th phase of OTLA projects we delivered on behalf of the Education and Training Foundation and funded by the Department for Education. This was the 5th OTLA phase that we were involved in as delivery partners.

Fifteen clusters researched new approaches for teaching English, ESOL and Essential Digital Skills (EDS) 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.

You can download the full programme anthology (fondly known as the ‘Big Tree Book’) SOON with all reports and editorials on the Excellence Gateway’s Practitioner Research + Evidence Portal (PREP).


  • Lesley Littlewood

    • Student-led strategies to motivate and engage lower-level GCSE English students – Chesterfield College.
    • Tools for teaching (and how to spell them) – exploring English in vocational contexts – NOVUS.
    • Unlocking potential in English – Strathmore College.
  • Cathy Clarkson (NATECLA Cluster)

    • Improving writing for ESOL students stuck at Entry Level 3 – New College Durham.
    • Introducing participatory ESOL approaches into volunteer-led, informal ESOL settings – SAVTE.
    • Can ESOL pedagogy be applied to GCSE and Functional Skills delivery to develop responsive teaching and learning? – Buckinghamshire College Group.
  • Chloë Hynes (NATECLA cluster)

    • ‘Teaching nuggets’: go-to resources for supporting ESOL and low-level literacy learners with digital skills – ACL Essex.
    • Can language learning apps enhance the classroom experience for ESOL learners? – City of Bristol College.
    • Supporting the Essential Digital Skills of ESOL and low-level English students – Islington Community Learning.
  • Emily Bryson (NATECLA cluster)

    • Supporting second language learners in vocational courses – The Oldham College.
    • Flipgrid for ESOL language development – Hopwood Hall.
  • Catherine Grey

    • Supporting learners to develop their knowledge of digital terminology – Barnsley Adult Skills and Community Learning.
    • Peer to Peer Fusion Skills Project – Haringey Adult Learning Service.
    • Bridging the Gap – Westminster Adult Education Service.
  • Sheran Johnson

    • Using digital readers to engage and build confidence in reading  – Blackburn College.
    • Targeting support for ESOL learners on vocational programmes – Boston College.
    • Supporting learner ownership and the formulation of authentic goals – ELATT.
  • Sonia Thomas

    • Improving feedback for assessments – Basingstoke College of Technology.
    • Task-Based Learning – City Lit.
    • Motivating Learners with Creative Writing – Myerscough College.

#OTLA over bamboo forest looking up to the sky

Sharing and Celebration Event 2022

Event Landing Page

You can also read the final event curated programme.

Cultivating professional change through action research (Editorial)

Dr Andy Convery

Research and Professional Development Lead

Our collective (+ reflective) action research tree