British Council Programmes in Scotland: an Impact Study

A team of researchers from the School of Education, University of Glasgow, led by Kay Livingston, Catherine Lido and Catherine Doherty, were commissioned to conduct a study on the impact of school participation in British Council programmes on student outcomes in Scotland, particularly in the context of the Scottish Attainment Challenge. British Council Scotland works with approximately one third of all schools in Scotland through their programmes (such as, Erasmus+, Connecting Classrooms, e-Twinning, and Modern Language Assistants), which aim to enrich curriculum, pedagogy and professional development with a global outlook.  

This research employed a mixed-methods approach, beginning with quantitative analysis of open national attainment data and individual pupil data in combination with seven qualitative case studies of schools in different settings and interviews with senior staff in key stakeholder agencies. The quantitative analyses, carried out in collaboration with Urban Big Data Centre (with open and securely held ScotExed pupil data in the Edris Safehaven), demonstrated a positive association between school participation in BC programmes and higher student attainment. However, schools in more deprived locations were significantly less likely to engage with these extra programmes than less deprived areas.

The case studies documented a variety of histories, motivations and enactments in their uptake of British Council programmes. Headteachers, Senior Management Teams and teachers in schools within Attainment Challenge local authorities reported purposefully using British Council programmes to build aspiration, confidence and school engagement for students. The programmes contributed to authentic literacy tasks and cross-curricular connections which made it hard to isolate their particular impact, except in the area of Modern Languages. The teachers placed a high value on the professional development opportunities they had participated in.

The report is freely available if interested in more detail.

PI and Co-PIs

Professor Kay Livingston, University of Glasgow

Professor Catherine Doherty, University of Glasgow

Dr Catherine Lido, University of Glasgow

Professor Trevor Gale, University of Glasgow

Dr Stephen Parker, University of Glasgow

Dr Ria Dunkley, University of Glasgow


Start and End Date

January 2018 – January 2019


Funder and Funding Amount

British Council Scotland

£66,000