In 2013, Dr Ben Goldacre produced a paper, Building Evidence into Education, that called for a culture where evidence is routinely collected and used to improve and promote teaching, learning and outcomes for children. This was well received by members of the DfE Education Forum, which Voice attends. Education Secretary Michael Gove referenced it in a speech to Policy Exchange, but gave no indication of how it would be taken forward.
In March 2014, Voice’s Dougie Atkinson, Professional Officer (Scotland), attended an event hosted by the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) to debate the interim findings of a study by the British Educational Research Association (BERA) into the role of research in teacher education. Similar events were held simultaneously in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The aim of the inquiry is to shape debate, inform policy, and influence practice. Seven separate papers were commissioned as part of that study, looking at different parts of the UK, different systems internationally, initial teacher education programmes, and CPD amongst others. At the event, Professor Pamela Munn of Edinburgh University set out the high-level findings from the work of the study so far.
Writing for the forthcoming April/May 2014 issue of Your Voice, Dougie Atkinson commented:
“Scotland’s approach to improving the educational experiences of young people by the use of research in teacher education was widely regarded as holding up well to scrutiny, but contrasted starkly with the experience elsewhere in the UK.
“Although it is difficult to make a causal connection, some of the features of the highest performing education systems (coherent systems, research embedded in teacher education programmes, emphasis on research-based knowledge informing practice etc) could be found in Scotland, whereas the fragmented and market-oriented systems found in places like Chile and the USA had much in common with the developing picture in England where there is no coherence in policy or practice.”