Moray House School of Education and Sport

Professional Learning as Critical Enquiry (PLaCE) for Whole School Improvement

Learn about PLaCE (Professional Learning as Critical Enquiry), our recent project involving the Teacher Education Partnerships, local authorities and schools.

PLaCE is an approach to professional learning and a model of collaborative engagement between colleagues in schools, local authority and university to consider how best schools can develop their knowledge and understanding of pedagogy, learning and teaching by using critical enquiry and data approaches that place knowing our children and young people right at the centre.

Currently 8 schools, across 4 local authorities (all within the South East Improvement Collaborative) are working with a team of colleagues from University of Edinburgh. The schools involved comprise:

  • 2 large secondary schools
  • 1 cluster of schools comprising 4 primaries and the associated secondary school.
  • 1 city centre primary school

PLaCE is designed to recognise the expertise, knowledge and professional judgement that exists within school. This model foregrounds the importance of the school as a learning organisation and staff learning together and developing collective expertise to ensure they are best able to meet the needs of all children and young people, ensuring excellence and equity for all.  

Rather than the emphasis being on individuals investigating their own practice (as is usually the focus when teachers undertake practitioner enquiry), this approach is about developing a critical mass and collaborative approach to support and enable all and build capacity that can lead to sustained change. 

PLaCE is underpinned by building capacity and criticality to support school staff to be empowered to examine and develop relevant, effective pedagogies for high quality teaching to progress individual’s learning. The PLaCE model has at its foundations the principles outlined in the national model of professional learning and can be seen as a way to enact the model through a coherent, systematic, connected and critical approach to staff learning and development for whole school improvement. The visual below provides an outline of the PLaCE approach and the role of all staff.  

Critical Enquiry

Contact Us

For general enquiries, please contact the Teacher Education Partnerships team (