By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 24 February 2016
In 2005 it was my turn to deliver the British Educational Research Association (BERA) presidential address, typically a ‘state of the nation’ review for education research. I considered many topics, but an overwhelming issue for the education research community at the time was the ‘what works’ agenda and its implications for the kinds of research that would continue to command funding. After consultation with colleagues, that is what I chose to focus on. Our concern was that this agenda would narrow the discipline of education, on a false prospectus of determining policy. Actually, in our political system research evidence is just one factor among many in policy decisions – and often a relatively insignificant one at that.
At the time, the address received a mixed reception: many welcomed my defence of the breadth of our discipline, but some colleagues working in the ‘what works’ mould rejected what they saw as its premise that researchers and policymakers were necessarily on ‘different sides’. But that reading was not my intention. I simply wanted to highlight the
messy and often indirect relationship between research and policy and the way in which all kinds of research could usefully input to public and policy debate about our education system – and the need for this to be reflected in research funding policy.
Ten years on, my IOE colleague Emma Wisby and I have revisited the BERA address as part of my new publication, Research and Policy in Education: Evidence, ideology and impact. In (more…)