Records of the Teaching, Learning and Research Programme (TLRP)

Scope and Content

Comprises records of the steering group and overall structure of TLRP; publications; and records relating to the following areas of the TLRP's work: partnerships; themes; capacity building; impact (Users); launch and consultation; events including a case study of the 2000 Annual Conference; and projects. Also supplementary records donated separately by Sir David Watson.

Administrative / Biographical History

TLRP was the Economic and Social Research Council's (ESRC) largest ever educational research programme. It coordinated some 700 researchers in over 100 investments. The origins of the Programme can be traced to the mid-1990s when educational research was heavily criticised for being small scale, irrelevant, inaccessible and of low quality. The total budget, including the final phase on technology enhanced learning, grew to some £43m. This drew contributions from a wide range of UK government bodies. The first generic projects began empirical work in 2000 and work on technology enhanced learning (TEL) will end in 2012.

TLRP’s aims emphasised the positive contribution that could be made by research on teaching and learning. More specifically, these aims were:

Learning: to improve outcomes for learners of all ages in teaching and learning contexts across the UK.

Outcomes: study a broad range of learning outcomes. These include both the acquisition of skill, understanding, knowledge and qualifications and the development of attitudes, values and identities relevant to a learning society.

Lifecourse: TLRP supports research projects and related activities at many ages and stages in education, training and lifelong learning. The Programme is concerned with patterns of success and difference, inclusion and exclusion through the lifecourse.

Enrichment: TLRP commits to user engagement at all stages of research. The Programme promotes research on teaching and learning across disciplines, methodologies and sectors, and supports various forms of national and international co-operation and comparison.

Expertise: TLRP works to enhance capacity for all forms of research on teaching and learning, and for research-informed policy and practice. This work is the particular focus of the Programme’s research capacity building strategy.

Improvement: TLRP develops the knowledge base on teaching and learning and contributes to the improvement of policy and practice in the UK. The Programme works to maximise the impact of its research.

TLRP’s overarching strategy was to support research of both high quality in social scientific terms and high relevance in terms of policy and practice. At the same time, considerable effort went into impact work, capacity building across the field of educational research and in ‘bridging’ between the worlds of researchers, policy-makers and practitioners. It is believed that greater respect for, and understanding of, complementary forms of expertise developed over the period.

TLRP’s development was driven by six key strategic commitments:

1. User engagement for relevance and quality

2. Knowledge generation by project teams

3. Knowledge synthesis through thematic activities

4. Knowledge transformation for impact

5. Capacity building for professional development

6. Partnerships for sustainability

Because of the duration, scale and complexity of TLRP, these elements were managed simultaneously - for instance, with some projects being commissioned just as others completed. However, as the Programme matured, there was also a progressive change in the balance of activity, with more emphasis being placed on knowledge synthesis, transformation and impact. Explicit strategies to underpin post-Programme sustainability were developed in relation to capacity building, the use of ICT to support research development in the field and the deepening of partnerships with related organisations.

The first Director of the Programme was Professor Charles Desforges (1998-2002). He led initial rounds of project commissioning and instigated a number of debates on methodological and theoretical issues. He was succeeded by Professor Andrew Pollard (2002-2009) who led the overall research effort and engagement with users and was responsible for the strategic direction of the Programme.


The majority of material held on digital storage media have been removed from the body of the collection and placed in the Digital Physical Media Storage Area (JW, March 2014)

Access Information


Some files are either closed or restricted in-line with data protection legislation. Please see file level descriptions for full access conditions. Please note, we require a minimum of two weeks' notice to provide access to this collection. Please contact the IOE Archives for further information.