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Archive for the 'Evidence-based policy' Category

Understanding the care workforce crisis: a research-policy relationship

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 2 November 2023

A dad adjusts a toddler's seat on an adult bicycle while a child wears a colourful helmet. Credit: Cavan via Adobe Stock.

Credit: Cavan via Adobe Stock.

Claire Cameron and Eva Lloyd, Visiting Professor, UCL.

A growing research literature has demonstrated that positive experiences early on in life are associated with more positive adult outcomes, so investing early is key for societal wellbeing. Central to this is the children’s workforce, from health visitors to early childhood education and care practitioners and social workers. In a newly published edited volume from past and present TCRU researchers, Social Research for our Times (UCL Press), we examine how social research and policy can interact (or not) to achieve progressive objectives for children and the professionals who provide their care. Whether the research is ‘strategic’ (with a longer-term orientation) or ‘tactical’ (more…)

The Thomas Coram Research Unit at 50: looking back to look forward?

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 31 October 2023

Group photo at a garden party celebrating TCRU's 50th anniversary. Credit: Mary Hinkley for UCL.

Credit: Mary Hinkley for UCL.

Peter Moss.

In a contemporary context of profound transitions and converging crises, it seems time to reconsider and reprioritise the role that social research can play in creating public policies, including services, that are relevant to rebuilding a world that is more just, more democratic, more sustainable and more caring. In this scenario, strategic social research, including an element of experimentation, may have a major part to play in what has been described by one commentator, Geoff Mulgan, as ‘expand[ing] our shared possibility space, the options for our societies… to populate our fuzzy pictures of the future with complex, rich, plausible [i]deas, pictures of the possible’.

Such concerns and such an approach are not new; they were founding principles of the Thomas Coram Research Unit (TCRU). They have, though, not always been easy to sustain. As TCRU marks its 50th anniversary, it is an important moment to reiterate that broader (more…)

How should research, policy and practice interact in the interests of education?

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 16 October 2023

What Matters in Education series from the ESRC Education Research Programme.

Gemma Moss.

In the run-up to the next general election, each of the political parties is beginning to set out what they see as the key issues in education and what they would like to change. This is a good moment to review the extent to which party-political priorities reflect concerns widely shared by the general public, the practitioner community and the research community – and the role the research community might have in helping to shape that debate. Just how research, policy and practice can best interact are live questions for the social sciences. (more…)

England’s approach to teaching reading is too narrow

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 11 October 2023

Small girl holding reading book up to a teacher in an empty classroom.

Credit: Cavan for Adobe

Dominic Wyse.

This is the second of three blog posts about the teaching of phonics, reading and writing. The approach of this blog series is characterised as ‘A Balancing Act’.

  1. Understanding the PIRLS 2021 results;
  2. England’s narrow approach to phonics teaching;
  3. What works for phonics, reading and writing

 The Balancing Act: Part 2

In order to judge if England’s approach to teaching reading is narrow or not, we need a clear picture of what typically is happening in primary school classrooms. We also need a clear picture because some commentators may claim that England’s approach is not narrow. Although we lack large-scale independent evidence of observations in classrooms, by combining teacher survey data with the details of statutory policy and related requirements it is possible to identify aspects that are part of England’s approach.

The list below needs to be understood as a whole because it represents multiple policy levers (more…)

Teaching synthetic phonics and reading: PIRLS of wisdom?

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 10 October 2023

White pearl in the lip of a clam shell.

Credit: By-studio / Adobe Stock.

Dominic Wyse.

This is the first of three blog posts about the teaching of phonics, reading and writing. The approach of this blog series is characterised as ‘A Balancing Act’:

  1. Understanding the PIRLS 2021 results;
  2. England’s narrow approach to phonics teaching;
  3. What works for phonics, reading and writing

The Balancing Act: Part 1

In an article in the Telegraph newspaper in May 2023 the Minister of State for Schools, Nick Gibb MP, claimed “Our ‘obsession’ with phonics has worked”. The claim was based on his interpretation of the Progress in International Reading and Literacy (PIRLS) 2021 study published earlier this year. The minister’s main point was that “England was fourth out of 43 comparable countries” because apparently teachers had “embraced phonics”. England’s average scale score in PIRLS 2021 was 558, compared to a score of 559 in the previous round, in 2016.

(more…)

Our Changing Society – charting political, social and economic change over nine decades

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 18 May 2023

Commuters walk around a London station. Some are blurry with movement. Image credit: Chris Mann via Adobe Stock.

Commuters walk around a London train station. Image credit: Chris Mann / Adobe Stock.

Aidan Riley.

The UK is home to a remarkable set of scientific studies that have tracked generations of people growing up in Britain over the last 90 years. These longitudinal population studies are unique in science and unparalleled elsewhere in the world – no other country has anything like them on the same scale.

Over those nine decades major political, social and economic changes have impacted every area of study participants’ lives. CLOSER’s ‘Our Changing Society’ resource provides this detailed historical context through a set of interactive charts and downloadable datasets to help you understand how these changes may have impacted people’s complex lives. (more…)

Does the UK really have the best maternity rights in the world?

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 8 March 2023

Curly haired baby being bottle-fed in woman's arms.

Credit: Keira Burton via Pexels.

Margaret O’Brien

In a recent BBC Radio 4 debate, the Right Honourable Jacob Rees-Mogg MP claimed that the UK has the best maternity rights in the world. The programme was aired on the 31st January, to debate the third anniversary of Brexit. In it, he also assured the audience that rescinding EU employment regulations would have no detrimental impact on British working parents – and that in comparison to our European neighbours we in the UK already benefit from exceptional maternity rights, with laws originating from the UK itself.

In fact, Jacob Rees-Mogg’s claim of world-leading maternity rights for Britain is an odd statement and contrary to international evidence. (more…)

Has peak PISA passed? A look at the attention international assessments receive

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 23 February 2023

John Jerrim.

Once upon a time, when Michael Gove was Secretary of State for education, PISA was all the rage (for the uninitiated, PISA is the Programme for International Student Assessment, which compares the performance of 15-year-olds across nearly 100 countries in reading, mathematics and science). As I noted at the time, international evidence was then en vogue, with PISA in particular featuring prominently in education debates. But is PISA now receiving less attention than it use to? In a new academic paper, I take a look… (more…)

Maximizing the use and impact of the UK’s longitudinal research data

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 24 January 2023

Connections and networks between moving people in a busy train station.

Credit: alice_photo via Adobe Stock.

Rob Davies.

As CLOSER marks its 10-year anniversary, we’re looking back over the evolution of the home of longitudinal research in the UK.

The studies

The UK funds a number of internationally renowned longitudinal population studies (LPS). Each tracks a large sample of individuals over a number of years. In some cases they follow cohorts of around 17,000 born in the same year, from cradle to grave. In others, they follow a cohort for a shorter period, and the sample may be defined by age and/or, for instance, where these individuals live or work. The data this generates have been invaluable for analysing social as well as biomedical research questions and informing policy. The primary funders are the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and Medical Research Council (MRC).

Each of the studies is powerful in itself, but the LPS community were more ambitious still, looking to amplify the insights they could provide by combining the data they generate. (more…)

IOE Blog in 2022: an age of anxiety with glimmers of hope

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 3 January 2023

Credit: Startup Stock Photos

Diane Hofkins.

Few of us will have been sad to see the end of the year 2022, and yet, throughout the year, our IOE writers sought to make things better. They analysed findings on topics from dyscalculia to climate change to exams to international development and proposed ways forward.

Take for example Sandra Leaton Gray and Andy Phippen’s helpful February post about children and internet safety, with its down to earth advice on listening to children and talking through concerns and its reassurance that most children use the internet safely. This post also featured my favourite illustration of the year (see above). Or Katya Dowdle’s debate-provoking proposals for more oral exams in higher education (HE). For (more…)