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School-University Partnership

Project website:

What research questions the project addresses, aims & themes

The School-University partnerships Initiative enables HEIs to work in partnership with secondary schools and FE colleges, which will support researchers' direct engagement with students and enrich the curriculum by bringing contemporary and inspirational research contexts into formal and informal learning.  The Open University holds an RCUK school-university partnership for its Engaging Opportunities project which is building on an existing partnership between the university and the Denbigh Teaching School Alliance.  In the three year project, the project team will work with 3,800 young people in Milton Keynes and OU research and researchers.

How the research questions are addressed by the project (methodology and activity/environment)

The project team is working with researchers and Key Stages 3, 4 and 5 school-age children to plan, deliver and assess a variety of opportunities for engagement, which draws on a flexible and adaptable framework involving four types of activities:

  • Open Lectures
  • Open Dialogues
  • Open Inquiry
  • Open Creativity

Evaluation research will assess success against the project's objectives: inspiring young people to consider a range of careers in research and raise ambition to succeed in these ends; raising awareness of different types of academic research; developing skills and competencies that empower citizenship and facilitate media literacy; generating awareness of the nature and challenges of contemporary research; and introducing discussion about the social, economic and ethical impacts of research.

The project will embed a culture at The Open University where schools-university engagement is strategically planned, effectively delivered, and systematically assessed. Young people who wish to make the transition from school to university will be more effectively supported, whilst those engaging will develop skills and competencies that will empower them to participate in debates and deliberations about the social, economic and ethical impacts of research.

See for further details.

Findings and outputs

The project outputs will include Open Lectures, Open Dialogues, Open Inquiry research-based activities and Open Creativity programme developing transferable skills and competencies.  See

Project impact

The project will embed a culture of school-university engagement at The Open University, and better support for young people making the transition from school to university.


open lectures, open dialogues, open inquiry, open creativity, academic research, schools, engagement

People involved

Richard Holliman (Principal Investigator, Science)

Eileen Scanlon (Co-Investigator, IET)

Victoria Pearson (Co-Investigators, Science)

Kris Stutchbury (Co-Investigator, FELS)

Janice Ansine (Co-Investigator, Science)

Diane Ford (Project Manager, Science)

Gareth Davies (Research Associate, Science)

Project partners and links

Denbigh Teaching School Alliance

Andy Squires, Director of the Denbigh Teaching School

Helen Brown, Deputy Head, Denbigh Teaching School

 Mark Russell, Project Coordinator, Denbigh Teaching School


Research Councils UK (RCUK)

Start Data and Duration

1 January 2013 - 31 December 2015, 3 years


Research & Innovation