Yesterday I attended a CEBE (Coalition for Evidence-Based Education) event about the role of research evidence in education. The use of evidence is squarely in the sights of the Department for Education, hence they hosted this ideas fuelled event.
The question the event raised was: Should Government have a role in choreographing an evidence system in education? If you have any views please share them in the comment section.
I wrote a blog stating my views on ‘The Problem with Research Evidence in Education’ before the session – see here. A lot of the themes of the session chimed with my post.
The event discussed some really interesting ideas related to the ‘evidence ecosystem‘ in education. Ideas and debate ranged from the role of government; what we can learn from other professions; a prospective role for a College of Teaching (there was a really promising model of a College of Policing – shared by the excellent Rachel Tuffin, Director, Knowledge, Research and Education at the College); national and local structures to create a ‘pipeline‘ for research; the role of Teaching Schools and researchers; different types of research evidence – from large scale RCTs and small scale action research etc.
One if the most interesting statements of the day came from Jonathan Shepard, Professor of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery; Director, Violence and Society Research Group, Cardiff University. From his position as practising surgeon and lead researcher, he made the following statement (I apologise if a word or two is out of place):
“Education academics should continue to practice in the classroom.”
This is an interesting notion. Is academia too divorced from practice? Does this divide ultimately need broaching if we are to ever have a truly research-led profession? If so, how? Can we shine a light on the current good practice that sees Higher Education institutions work well in unison with schools?
He stated it would be absurd if a Professor of Obstetrics was not practising as an obstetrician. His view (and mine), is that research must be firmly rooted in the problems of the front line. Undoubtedly, working in the classroom, and having direct engagement with the classroom, teachers and students, has crucial credibility for anyone communicating research evidence to teachers.
Prof Jonathan Shepard made a second statement that raises all sorts of interesting questions about research evidence and the gap between academia and the classroom. He stated:
“Professors of Education should have their offices in comprehensive schools.”
What an interesting suggestion. I’m inclined to agree. How about you?