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Sunderland Repository records the research produced by the University of Sunderland including practice-based research and theses.

Reflections on setting up a participatory action research project with local schools

Hidson, Elizabeth and Duffy, Kate (2024) Reflections on setting up a participatory action research project with local schools. In: Sixth Annual Faculty of Education and Society Staff Research Conference, 10 Jun 2024, Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St. Peter's. (Unpublished)

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)


The University of Sunderland and local schools already work in partnership to train and mentor new teachers. When a funded opportunity for a participatory action research project arose at the University, it made sense to reach out to teachers in existing partner schools and prioritise local insights into what works for children in this region. After all, Sharples et al (2019) remind us that no matter how great an idea is in principle, “what really matters is how it manifests itself in the day–to–day work of people in schools” (Sharples et al., 2019, p. 3).

Following on from the pandemic, we know that cognitive, social and emotional resources must now find their place alongside more traditional learning (Wear and Bethune, 2021). Having identified this as a school priority, our practitioner researchers were interested in trialling an established positive psychology scheme of work providing 12 hours of learning for primary age pupils. As a group we were keen to tailor it to the needs of each school and embrace the potential to reflect on and learn from the experience.

Our research group of two university staff, nine teachers and the external facilitator met for an initial day of joint training and planning. Using a structured process, each individual school then devised their personal research question, identified success criteria and designed their research cycles.
In this session we will reflect on the process of setting up the project and the progress so far, to share our knowledge and encourage others to work in collaboration with local partners.

Pain R, Whitman, G. and Milledge, D (2019) Participatory Action Research Toolkit: An Introduction to Using PAR as an Approach to Learning, Research and Action. Practice Guide. Durham University. Available at: (accessed 23 February 2024).
Sharples J, Albers B and Fraser F (2019) Putting evidence to work: A school’s guide to implementation. Guidance report. Available at: (accessed 23 February 2024).
Weare K and Bethune A (2021) Implementing Mindfulness in Schools: An Evidence-Based Guide. Guidance report. Available at (accessed 23 February 2024).

HIDSON & DUFFY MINI MINDS FES 2024 abridged for SURE.pdf
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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Depositing User: Elizabeth Hidson


Item ID: 17727

Users with ORCIDS

ORCID for Elizabeth Hidson: ORCID iD
ORCID for Kate Duffy: ORCID iD

Catalogue record

Date Deposited: 03 Jul 2024 08:24
Last Modified: 03 Jul 2024 08:30


Author: Elizabeth Hidson ORCID iD
Author: Kate Duffy ORCID iD

University Divisions

Faculty of Education and Society > School of Education


Education > Primary Education
Education > Educational Research

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