Shared Island/SCoTENS Research Initiative


The Standing Conference on Teacher Education, North and South (SCoTENS) was established in 2003 to create a safe space for teacher educators – North and South – to come together and discuss issues of common interest and explore ways of co-operating closely together.

The Irish Government’s Shared Island initiative was launched by the Taoiseach, Micheál Martin TD, in October 2020, to harness the full potential of the Good Friday Agreement to enhance cooperation, connection and mutual understanding on the island, engaging with all communities and traditions to build consensus around a shared future. The Taoiseach has set out tackling educational underachievement on both parts of the island and enhancing understanding across communities through education, as key issues of interest for the Shared Island initiative.

In this context, the Shared Island unit in the Department of the Taoiseach and SCoTENS have partnered to issue this funded call for research to be undertaken in 2021-2022, that will contribute to enhanced understanding and inform professional and policy development considerations on a shared island basis.

This new partnership complements the existing activities of SCoTENS and contributes to the wider research programme of the Shared Island unit, seeking to enhance interaction and understanding on key education themes, North and South.

Funded research projects will adopt an action research approach which ensures that the focus is on research on practice and research in practice/s, namely planning, designing and evaluating practices that have been modified and/or newly-introduced, and are specifically designed to advance shared understanding of both educational and related social practices on the island and to inform thinking on potential future changes and modifications to teacher education on the island. 

This research call builds on but is distinct from the existing and long-established annual SCoTENS seed-funding competition.   

The call places a focus on two key themes in teacher education; is based on an action research model; and, makes provision for the inclusion of international and/or expert contributions to add further value to the research projects.

Research projects are to be completed by 14th October 2022.   Funding of up to €25,000 will be awarded to up to four projects, under each of the themes indicated below and which meet the required standard. Applications are invited in the following two areas:

1. Educational Underachievement – “Enhancing educational attainment: sharing experience and learning on a shared island”

The focus on educational underachievement corresponds to major educational policy priorities, North and South on the island (including as reflected in Northern Ireland in the New Decade, New Approach agreement of January 2020 and A Fair Start – Final Report and Action Plan of the Expert Panel on Educational Underachievement in Northern Ireland; and as considered in Ireland in Beyond achievement: home, school and wellbeing findings from PISA 2018 for students in DEIS and non-DEIS schools, Educational Research Centre, 2021 and Insights – Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Department of Education 2021) and builds on many previous SCoTENS seed-funded projects in this broad area.

In light of existing policy, research and practice, research proposals are particularly welcomed which seek to address how teacher education can best prepare teachers (pre-service and/or in-service) for the challenges of addressing educational underachievement, in particular in socially-disadvantaged communities. Projects should be proposed within a framework which promotes teacher education for social justice and promotes the empowerment of teachers/trainees as active agents of change in their schools and wider communities. Adopting an interactive inquiry process, proposals should ensure ‘taking action’ and ‘doing research’ occurs simultaneously. Projects must contribute to shared understanding on the island and future development within one or more of the contexts of policy, research and practice. 

2. Teaching and Learning – “How we teach: acknowledging, understanding and learning from others on a shared island”

The focus on teaching and learning is deliberately broad to allow funding applications to choose thematic areas of interest that are of particular current and practical relevance to teachers and teacher educators, North and South. Applications are sought in relation to current priority themes such as promoting pupil mental health, learning about the environment, effective use of technology to support learning, supporting children with special and/or additional educational needs, online safety etc., or could also focus on discrete curricular subjects.

Projects should include a focus on teacher education as well as an application to schools and should adopt an interactive inquiry process which ensures that ‘taking action’ and ‘doing research’ occurs simultaneously.  Projects must contribute to shared understanding on the island and future development within one or more of the contexts of policy, research and practice. 

Details of the process


All proposals must be submitted by North-South partnerships. Teacher education providers (Higher Education Institutions HEIs) are required to seek out partnerships so that institutions and/or organisations in both jurisdictions are involved, and to engage in the competitive process by submitting a proposal, indicating the overall lead or primary investigator (PI) of the project. The lead partner MUST be from a teacher education institution that is a fully-paid up members of SCoTENS. To be considered for funding, the application must include a signed letter of approval from the Head of School/Department (or equivalent) of the lead partner.
There is no limit on the number of other partners in any one application. Applicants are welcome to include organisations/institutions which are not members of SCoTENS and/or partners/collaborators from outside Northern Ireland and Ireland, where the contribution of the partner/collaborator will make a valuable contribution to the project. Signed letters of approval from the Head of School/Department (or equivalent) of all partners are required.
Applications will be reviewed and considered by members of the SCoTENS steering committee (for assessment see link below).

Eligible costs may include:

  • Buy-out or salary costs for research team leads and/or lead
  • Small equipment (single items should not normally cost more than €1,000) but justification must be provided illustrating that the equipment is absolutely necessary to carry out the research work and that such a facility is not available through other means to the researcher(s)
  • The cost of institutional overheads at a cost of up to 25% of total cost per institution
  • Other costs required must be specifically identified and justified, e.g., fieldwork, data collection, archives, open access publication, access to national infrastructures, expert consultancy fees, travel and subsistence, venue hire, etc.

Parameters of the projects:

  • In addition to potential partners/collaborators from outside Ireland and Northern Ireland, research projects are encouraged to utilise educational experts from Ireland, Northern Ireland and/or further afield, to help drive and support the research exploring change in the areas of educational underachievement and how we teach and learn key thematic or subject areas. Each successful project is encouraged to invite one or more key experts to take a ‘hands on’ approach in their project and to remotely work with/mentor the collaborative research teams, especially at the key stages in the project, including the planning and design stage and the evaluation stage. Each project is expected to cost this element in their submission.
  • Research projects are required to complete the projects on time. Successful applicants will be required to submit a comprehensive report at the end of the project period.
  • One third of the funding will be transferred to the respective institution initially and the final two thirds will be transferred following the submission and acceptance of the final report.
  • Successful project teams will also be expected to present their research at dissemination events including the SCoTENS annual conference in October 2022 and acknowledge SCoTENS and the Shared Island Unit funding in all relevant presentations or publications.
  • Research projects are required to submit a detailed, online application through the SCoTENS website, indicating key milestones, measurable outcomes, timelines, costings and a dissemination plan, in addition to SCoTENS dissemination requirements, by 5pm on Wednesday 20th October 2021. Late submissions or paper copies will not be accepted.
  • The following Assessment Criteria will be used for judging the applications:  Shared Island SCoTENS Assessment Criteria
  • Any further enquiries to Tricia Kelly, administrator at the Centre for Cross Border Studies


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