Research Policy & Practice: Redrawing the Boundaries

3rdMay 2012

Research, Policy & Practice: Redrawing the Boundaries

Organised by:The National Education Trust

At:The Wellcome Trust,215 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE.

This event was organised by the National Education Trust in conjunction with CEBE to consider effective collaboration between research and policymaking. Keynote speakers were:

Baroness Estelle Morris, former secretary of state for education, who offered a politician’s insight on the relationship between research and policy

 Professor Kathy Sylva,co-director of the EPPSE project (Effective Pre-School, Primary and Secondary Education), who drew on her experience of the long-running EPPSE project

The event was organised as a half-day seminar in which the two complementary speakers, from policy and research, stimulated round-table discussion amongst participants. The event was chaired by Prof. Derek Bell and concluded with a panel session with the speakers plus Laurence Pitt, a head teacher, Hilary Leevers, from the Wellcome Trust and Stephen Witt from DfE Research and Analysis.

Estelle Morris’s speech focused on the realities of the policymaker’s world and the role that research does and could play in it. She concluded with views on the extent to which politics should engage with pedagogic issues.

Kathy Sylva talked about the challenge for scientists in engaging in knowledge exchange, in contrast with transfer, and the detailed attention paid in the EPPSE project to relationships with politicians, civil servants and the media as well as with service delivery managers and practitioners.

Mixed discussion groups of practitioners, leaders, researchers and intermediaries discussed issues of mediating research, research-awareness in schools and government, the role of CPD and of leadership as well as attitudes to research evidence in the professions and wider society.

Points made in the final panel session include:

·         Politicians should encourage more CPD and evidence-based practice but leave pedagogy to teachers

·         It is difficult to scale up small-scale practitioner research. National evaluations of the impact of small-scale local initiatives differ from the benefits described in local evaluations.

·         The question arises: what do different groups of people mean by “evidence”

·         We need more evidence about the benefits and drawbacks of collaborative research

·         There is a tension between the need for teachers to feel they have a choice about pedagogic options and the need to ensure fidelity to evidence-based approaches.

A paper by the National Education Trust inspired by the event will be available on the NET website.

Andrew Morris 22.06.12