In the spring and summer of 2023 the FED supported Dr Gemma Moss and her team at the Education Research Programme (ESRC) with their consultations into research agenda settings within the education community. The objective was to give more voice to schools and their communities in identifying issues that they think would benefit from research, yet to date remain largely overlooked leading to more equal partnerships between researchers and practitioners, to the benefit of all.
The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the crucial role schools play in supporting their local communities during difficult times. During school closures, schools were quick to identify and respond to the most pressing needs in their communities, including for safety, wellbeing and basic welfare, as well as by finding new ways of teaching and learning under novel conditions. Yet such activities went largely under-researched and undervalued. Instead, guidance from the DfE seemed to ignore the realities on the ground or focused on suggestions that were impossible to implement (Timmins, 2021).
Such a disconnect between policy and practice matters. Policy pressure applied in the wrong places to the wrong themes distorts what schools do. It can also lead to resources being wasted on initiatives schools do not need and would not commission themselves. (The National Audit Office reports uptake for the original National Tutoring Programme never met its targets, leading to the DfE redirecting funding to a school-led route which gave schools more control over how the monies were spent (NAO, 2023, p10).)
The ESRC researcher consulted with the FED’s Parents and Carers, National Education Leaders Council, Learners and Practitioners.
This consultation was part of a bigger research programme committed to rethinking how research, policy and practice interact. You can find out more about the programme here: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/education-research-programme/