A small group of UK educational researchers have been trying to promote 'evidence-based' education for some time. With the establishment of ResearchED and the Educational Endowment Foundation - and its teacher-oriented toolkit reviewing the relative cost and benefit of different interventions - research informed practice is now firmly on the political agenda.
But strange as it may seem, this wasn't always the case. Indeed, persuading the profession of the importance of robust evidence to inform practice was initially an up-hill struggle and even today, the journey is far from complete.
Much of the initial drive to put evidence informed practice on the agenda came from Professor Robert Coe and his colleagues at Durham University's Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM).
Back in 1999, in his Manifesto for Evidence based Education, Coe argued that, in the UK, too many policies have been imposed on schools without adequate evidence about their likely effects and costs. He argues that such an approach is a waste of public money and professionals' time. While education may not be an exact science, Coe argued it is too important an element of society to allow it to be determined by unfounded opinion - whether of politicians, teachers, researchers or anyone else.
He highlighted three main ways in which education could become more evidence-based, through:
the development of evidence-based policies
the development of evidence-based practice
the general promotion of a 'culture of evidence'
What's worth reading?
In a recent CEM blog post, Coe offers some personal recommendations on what's worth reading for teachers interested in research.