CERI - Final Workshop for Evidence-based Policy Research in Education
Teaching and Learning Research Programme
The fourth and final workshop in the Evidence-based Policy Research (EbPR) series was hosted jointly by DfES and the Teaching and Learning Research Programme of the Economic and Social Research Council. This has been a very successful seminar series and this meeting was no exception: representatives of 19 OECD countries (including 6 CERI Governing Board members) and the EC participated in this meeting. Jane Davidson (Minister for Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills, Wales) opened the conference with a passionate and knowledgeable account of her commitment to the use of evidence-based policy in education. John Elliot (Chief Economist, DfES England) opened and attended the first day, as well as speaking at the dinner. The focus of this fourth meeting in the series was on implementation, scaling up and sustainability, with the additional aim of drawing some conclusions from the series. This was a logical follow-up to previous meetings, which had focussed on methodology, the stakeholders, and the role of brokerage agencies in bridging the divides between research and policy communities. In focussing on implementation, speakers were asked to address multiple angles. One panel focussed on evaluating the efficacy and impact of projects from a funder?s perspective (funders representing foundations, the EC, and government (The Netherlands)). Another panel provided assessments of country brokerage programmes and challenges (interestingly both presenters represented federated countries (Switzerland and Canada) with their own particular contextual challenges), as well as looking cross-discipline for lessons that can be learned and shared with education (in this case, from Social Care).
?How do projects get developed to support scaling up and sustainability?? and ?What is the value-added of programmes over a series of projects?? were the two questions posed in the workshops. 12 speakers from 12 countries took the working groups through their examples and then discussion ensued. In my working group we had strong presentations and a particularly diverse group, which led to dynamic, constructive, and high-level discussion. One observation was that some of the presenters had great difficulty in answering the questions posed, despite a clear expertise and great knowledge of their projects and EbPR issues. This demonstrates how little we (as a community) know at this point about scaling up, sustainability, and implementation issues in regards to EbPR, despite the high profile of and prolific discourse on the subject. Clearly much more work needs to be done to move the dialogue forward and further our understanding of these issues. Several participants remarked that it is a mark of the pertinence of the workshop series that there has been a progression in the dialogue across the conferences. This final one addressed an area of growing concern for policy makers and researchers alike, and although we do not yet have many of the answers, we are starting to ask the right questions.