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QCAP-ROC Roundtable: Towards a Collaborative Agenda for Engaged Education Research

Queen's Communities and Place (QCAP) and the Robert Owen Centre for Educational Change (University of Glasgow) joined forces once again to host the QCAP-ROC Roundtable, focusing on a collaborative research agenda for engaged education research. This event aimed to explore the ways in which educational inequality might be addressed through place-based approaches, building on the success of our previous collaboration in the ESRC funded CLIP study.

The roundtable, hosted on campus at Queen’s University Belfast, brought together a diverse group of participants from academia, community organizations, and policymakers from the Department of Education NI and the Education Authority NI. The collaborative format encouraged open discussions and the exploration of concepts related to equity in education, educational landscapes, and engaged research with schools that work with underserved communities.

The rationale behind the event was rooted in the understanding that social factors significantly influence educational outcomes in Northern Ireland and Scotland. Research has consistently shown a clear link between socio-economic disadvantage and low educational attainment, with disadvantaged areas, particularly urban, working-class communities, facing more significant challenges. Existing area-based interventions have often been top-down and limited in their success, prompting the need for community-led initiatives to address locally identified needs. To further the understanding of these spatial phenomena and support local communities in developing their educational landscapes, QCAP and ROC sought to develop a collaborative research agenda. The event provided an opportunity for attendees to share their expertise and insights.

The meeting featured a series of presentations and discussions led by experts in the field. The distinguished roster of speakers included Prof. Tony Gallagher from Queen's University Belfast (QUB), Prof. Chris Chapman (ROC), and Dr. Gareth Robinson (QCAP). In addition, Dr. Joe Bishop from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) offered his perspective on community schools, educational equity, and social justice in the US. The presentations covered critical educational landscapes, regional improvement collaboratives (RIC) in Scotland, and community schools, providing a comprehensive overview of the current challenges and potential solutions. The discussions were enriched by community perspectives shared by Áine Brady (QCAP local coordinator) from the Market Development Association (MDA) and Sarahjane Waite representing the Greater Shankill Partnership Board (GSPB).

Prof. Daniel Mujis, the discussant for the event, played a crucial role in identifying common themes and challenges, facilitating further exploration. The interactive sessions that followed fostered lively conversations and generated valuable insights. Participants engaged in thoughtful dialogue and sharing of their collective knowledge and experiences. The QCAP-ROC Roundtable successfully offered a platform for stakeholders from various backgrounds to collaborate, learn from each other, and develop an agenda that can drive engaged education research. By working together, combining academic expertise, community perspectives, and policy engagement, we are aiming to make a significant impact on improving educational outcomes for underserved communities.

QCAP would like to express our gratitude to all the participants for their contributions and commitment to building a collaborative agenda. The QCAP-ROC partnership looks forward to continuing this important work and building on the momentum generated at the roundtable to create positive change in education and address the persistent challenge of educational inequality.