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BERA Research Commissions


Since 2015, BERA has awarded funding for a variety of Research Commissions. 

The aim of BERA Research Commissions is to identify and address issues of current importance to the study and practice of education which may have future consequences for the discipline and its research communities. They should explore how educational research can respond to the challenges and opportunities raised by the changing nature of education across the four nations.

The outcomes and recommendations of the research commissions are not endorsed by BERA, and the intention is for the work to break new ground and bring prominence to less researched areas within education.


The specific approach and methodology will be for each Commission to agree for itself at the point of application. We recognise that different formats will better suit different approaches and welcome a diversity of applications.

We expect there to be tangible outcome of each proposal. This might be in the way of a seminar series or commissioned papers. Proposals should have an impact strategy that will allow the reports to be disseminated and find a use within the wider community. The potential for impact should be built it into the proposal with a brief to think creatively about how to do this.

We also expect both a short interim report on the progress of the Commission and then a final report including recommendations for any next steps. While direct recommendations can be made for BERA to develop the work of the commission, the intention is that this funding will allow for further work without the need for further funding from BERA. It is the responsibility of each commission to decide what recommendations are appropriate and how to follow these up in the future.


BERA would like these Commissions to help the discipline, working alongside practitioners and policymakers, to contribute to and lead current debates. We would encourage involvement of those from other disciplines and from policymakers and practitioners as well as members of BERA. The proposal should explain how different groups of participants will be identified and involved in the Commission’s work. It should be noted that we wish to encourage the development of research capacity through involving postgraduate students and early career researchers.

 We recognise that international collaboration has tremendous potential to add value to research and increase impact, and therefore encourage applicants to consider engaging overseas researchers and stakeholders in their proposal.

BERA is committed to working towards greater equality, inclusion & representation. In that spirit, we particularly welcome applications from under-represented groups.

All lead applicants including any named PIs must be a current member of BERA and remain a member throughout the duration of the funding and reporting period. We would expect at least a majority of the whole team to be BERA members for the duration of the commission.


Efficiency, cost-effectiveness and value for money should be clearly demonstrated. This call has a limited budget; and funding for any one Commission is up to £20,000. In addition, BERA will provide considerable support in-kind, including the organising of any events, promotion of the commission’s work and then editing and publication of the final report or other public outputs.

Successful applicants will receive an award letter, which will act as a contract between the Association, the grant holder and (where appropriate) their Higher Education Institute (HEI). The award letter and any subsequent agreement will need to be signed by both the grant applicant and the higher education institution (HEI). Normally payment will be made in three stages: 40% upon signing of the award letter, 30% upon submission of the interim report and 30% upon submission and acceptance of the final report. Our preference is to make these payments upon invoice from a host institution. While that institution could be different for different instalments, we are unable to process multiple invoices for each instalment. Invoices should be clearly labelled against the title of the Research Commission and sent to  Alternatively, it is possible for BERA to hold funds centrally and directly fund outputs such as event costs. This would need to be agreed at the time of award and the preferred method of funding should be made clear at the proposal stage.

The budget contained in your proposal will be that for the project.

Eligible Costs

 Funds may be spent to cover the direct expenses incurred in planning, conducting, and developing the research, including but not limited to:

  • Project planning and development costs
  • Teaching or research buy-out
  • Research assistance
  • Consumables – purchase of datasets, photocopies, microfilms etc and any minor items that will be used during the course of the project
  • Costs of interpreters in the field and transcription costs of interviews
  • Cost of setting up the research website
  • Software – of any description
  • Costs of deposit of digital material in a suitably accessible repository may be considered
  • Travel and expenses for speakers and participants
  • Hire of rooms and facilities
  • BERA and some other Conference attendance

In addition to this direct funding, BERA will provide:

  • Event organisation for any events relating to the work of the Commission (these must be stipulated at the time of application and any direct costs included in the budget)
  • Report editing and design for the final report from each Commission
  • Dissemination and promotion to BERA members and wider contacts

Ineligible Costs

Applicants registered with special needs may consult the Association about possible exceptions. Ineligible costs are:

  • Institutional overheads
  • Payment to the principal researcher in lieu of salary or for personal maintenance at home
  • Equipment including but not limited to computing, printing, cameras, telephones of any type, recording equipment etc •
  • Subventions for direct production costs (printing, binding, distribution, marketing etc…
  • BERA Membership Fee

Research Ethics

The host organisation is responsible for ensuring that ethical issues relating to the research project are identified and brought to the attention of the relevant approval or regulatory body. Approval to undertake the research must be granted before any work requiring approval begins. Ethical issues should be interpreted broadly and may encompass, among other things, relevant codes of practice, the involvement of human participants, tissue or data in research, the use of animals, research that may result in damage to the environment and the use of sensitive economic, social or personal data. The BERA Ethical Guidelines can be found on our website.

Branding and Publicity

 Adherence to the communications policy is a condition of the receipt of funds for a BERA Research Commission. We expect you to:

  • Provide publicity for the funding
  • Acknowledge BERA support as far as possible, including in all publications and other forms of communication, such as press releases, PowerPoint presentations, papers, stationery, etc… using the logo where appropriate. You must follow our visual identity and logos
  • Give BERA advance notice and sight of press releases and, where possible, advance notice of likely newspaper articles, media appearances; this also applies to social media publicity where it may be beneficial to coordinate messages with the BERA office. Please contact .

Any published reports or outcomes from the Commission should be published through BERA in the first instance.


Any events you are organising as part of a Commission should be done in conjunction with BERA. In particular, this would involve BERA managing registrations through our website. The number and nature of events should have been agreed at the time of application and are subject to BERA’s policies and procedures for similar events.


 Apart from notifying BERA of any significant changes to the original proposals, we expect an Interim Report by 20th December 2023. This report should contain:

  • An update on activity so far
  • A summary of the remaining activity
  • Any reports from activity so far or at least an outline of the emerging conclusions/ recommendations from the Commission’s work

The final reports are due by 30th April 2024. BERA will then liaise with the lead individual named by the Commission about the design and publication of the final report. However, BERA reserve the right to publish them in whatever form is deemed to be most appropriate.

Misconduct and Conflicts of Interest

The host organisation is required to have in place procedures for governing good research practice, and for investigating and reporting unacceptable research conduct. They must on request provide information on its management of research integrity and ethics. 


BERA accepts no responsibility, financial or otherwise, for expenditure or liabilities arising out of the research it funds, other than that specifically covered by the conditions of the grant and which has been incurred during the period covered by it. Any expenditure in excess of the approved grant cash limit, or expenditure incurred after the end date of the grant, are also the responsibility of the host organisation, and ineligible for BERA funding.

The books, records and financial procedures of the host organisation shall be open to inspection by BERA or any other body or individual engaged by BERA for the purpose of such inspection. The host organisation will, on request by BERA, provide accounts for the grant, independently examined by an auditor who is a member of a recognised professional body, certifying that the expenditure of the grant has been in accordance with all BERA conditions.

Links to other BERA work

 Successful Commissions are strongly encouraged to make a proposal to present a symposium based upon their work at the relevant BERA Conferences. Papers will be subject to the normal conference application, review and acceptance procedure. Funding for conference places can be included in the Commission’s budget.

You are also encouraged to submit articles for the BERA Blog – – at every stage of the Commission’s work. We would be delighted to publish an introductory blog as well as contribution from participants as the Commissions progress.

Criteria for assessment

Incomplete applications or applications arriving after the closing date will not be considered. Applications will be assessed on the basis of quality and the deliverability of the proposed project. Proposals should be submitted on a proforma and assessment will focus on the following aspects of their proposal:

  • The aims and objectives of the proposed Commission, including the extent to which proposal ideas are innovative and address BERA’s priority areas
  • The planned outputs and likely impact

Each proposal will be judged on its:

  • Originality, potential contribution to knowledge and the extent that the proposed commission demonstrates innovation potential
  • Quality of research design and methods including the soundness of the concept, and credibility of the proposed methodology
  • Relevance to the theme chosen by BERA
  • Significance of outputs, dissemination and impact – the extent to which the outputs of the commission would contribute to each of the expected impacts mentioned
  • Value for money – both the direct costs and the potential to bring in other resources through collaboration and co-operating to maximise the outputs of the commission’s work

Initial assessment will be carried out by BERA’s College of Reviewers with a final decision taken by members of Council. BERA reserves the right not to award a commission if insufficient quality proposals are submitted.

We regret that as a small-scale funder, and a registered charity relying on the volunteer labour of our members, BERA is not able to offer feedback on individual applications and correspondence will not be entered into.


Education and environmental sustainability

The most recent Research Commmission focused on the theme of education and environmental sustainability. The outcome of this call was our support for a project to co-create a manifesto for Education for Environmental Sustainability (EfES) in secondary education in the UK.  This has been a great success, with various outputs including BERA Blogs, a specially curated issue of Research Intelligence, podcasts, policy briefing, community guidance documents, and the final manifesto, which was launched at a BERA event with our record number of registrations for a non-Conference event. 

Competing Discourses of Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC): Tensions, Impacts and Democratic Alternatives across the UK’s four jurisdictions

The first BERA Research Commission was Competing Discourses of Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC): Tensions, Impacts and Democratic Alternatives across the UK’s four jurisdictions, led by Dr. Guy Roberts-Holmes (UCL, Institute of Education), Dr. Jan Georgeson (University of Plymouth) and Dr. Verity Campbell-Barr (University of Plymouth).