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[xmca] Education research exists, so why isn't it used in policymaking? | Education | The Guardian
A useful article. It would make a change if governmental policy-makers
understood the relationship between poverty/class and school
achievement. Culture and its impact, what shapes it, and how it
impacts on kids and learning is not on their agenda.
We need to be teaching teachers about it.
From today's Guardian
Education research exists, so why isn't it used in policymaking?
An EPPSE study, following the life trajectories of 3,000 children,
could really teach policymakers something, says Fiona Millar
guardian.co.uk, Monday 7 May 2012 19.45 BST
The EPPSE study, initiated by the Major government, is following the
life trajectories of 3,000 children. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/
Earlier this year, the House of Lords published a long and detailed
report on the outwardly rather dry topic of government chief
scientific advisers. This 100-page report was based on almost 400
pages of evidence and made some important recommendations about how
scientific evidence should be acted upon in public policymaking.
I only came across it after being alerted to the submission from
Oxford University's Professor Pam Sammons, who used the government's
free schools as an example of how policies are not always based on
robust evidence. She suggested that a more in-depth look at the
research would have shown the impact of Swedish free schools and
American charters on standards and narrowing the gap is not as
clearcut as the 2010 white paper, The Importance of Teaching,
suggests, and that such policy initiatives should be piloted before
being rolled out.
This is not to suggest that the Department for Education doesn't do
research. Indeed the department's website boasts proudly that £24.7m
was spent between 2010 and 2011. And even if the results are
cherrypicked, or ignored, it is a valuable resource. One of its most
significant projects is the EPPSE (Effective Pre-school, Primary &
Secondary Education) study, which I have dipped into repeatedly in the
last 10 years. This study, initiated by the Major government, started
the painstaking task of following the life trajectories of 3,000
children in the first year of the Blair government and has been
producing detailed reports ever since. A running theme has been the
factors in and out of school that help to reduce inequality. One of
its latest papers, Performing Against the Odds, goes to the heart of
the debate about social mobility by looking at why it is that some
children from disadvantaged backgrounds succeed against the odds.
All the EPPSE papers are clear about the impact of good teaching,
relationships between pupils and teachers and why schools matter. In
this report, extra help for children who are falling behind appears
critical. But they are equally clear that schools alone can't
compensate for the inequalities in society. High-quality early-years
provision, self-esteem, communities, social networks, peer group and
enrichment opportunities form a complex web of "risky" and
"protective" factors for children.
But the home and parenting may trump the rest in determining whether
children thrive. Encouraging, consistent parents and a stimulating
home-learning environment help children to develop self-esteem,
aspiration and resilience and this is by no means totally down to
family income. The researchers talk of visiting homes where the
heating was off, where light bulbs and tea bags were a luxury, but
where expectation and belief in the children was high.
So why do we never hear about this any more? In the last few years of
the Labour government , parenting was a high-profile and controversial
subject. I took part in many debates about whether the state should
intervene in the private family domain; whether parenting support
should be a default model for the most disadvantaged children or a
universal offer to acknowledge that wealth doesn't necessarily equal a
supportive home and whether dawn-to-dusk childcare would turn children
into delinquent yobs.
But derided as they were, initiatives like the Blair "baby Asbo",
children's centres and parenting-support advisers were a recognition
that intervening and offering support to vulnerable families (even
before birth) might help to improve outcomes for their children.
Whether you agreed with them or not, it was important that these
issues were being debated publicly.
Many schools continue to invest in enrichment, extended services and
parenting support, but with difficulty, given the funding situation.
But the overly simplistic narrative that synthetic phonics, a focus on
five academic GCSEs, rigid discipline and doffing your cap at the
teacher will give every working-class child the chance to go to
Oxbridge is pulling in the other direction. If only it were that
simple. The conclusion of the House of Lords report was that
government scientific advisers needed to have status, be independent,
challenging and be able to introduce evidence at every stage of the
policy process. I would endorse all of that and suggest that for the
DfE the findings in this study would be a very good place to start.
Research · Schools · Higher education
2 Mar 2006
An end to this segregation
12 Sep 2011
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