Research and Policy in Education

Evidence, ideology and impact

Paperback / softback, 134 pages, 240 mm x 169 mm
5 Feb 2016

Price: £24.99

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The OECD tells us that 90 per cent of education reforms are not properly evaluated. So it seems that governments have not lived up to their own ideals of evidence-informed policymaking.

Research and Policy in Education argues that education policy is as often driven by political ideologies as by solid research evidence. It explores this claim with case studies of:

• the Coalition government’s reform of teacher training towards a school-led approach;
• the use of evidence in international policy borrowing and the rhetoric of ‘what works’;
• the deployment of policies that aim to narrow the social class achievement and participation gap.

The book concludes with a plea for more discipline-based research on education, and a reassertion of the importance of the sociology of education as an essential resource for making sense of contemporary education policy.

  • Geoff Whitty

    Professor Geoff Whitty currently holds a Research Professorship at Bath Spa University and a Global Innovation Chair at the University of Newcastle, Australia. He was Director of the Institute of Education, University of London from 2000 to 2010, and a specialist adviser to the House of Commons Education Select Committee from 2006 to 2012.

  • Jake Anders

    Jake Anders is a Research Fellow at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research.

  • Annette Hayton

    Annette Hayton is Head of Widening Participation at the University of Bath.

  • Sarah Tang

    Sarah Tang is a Research Associate at Education Datalab and is studying towards a PhD from the UCL Institute of Education.

  • Emma Wisby

    Emma Wisby is Head of Policy and Public Affairs at the UCL Institute of Education.

CONTENTS: 1. Education(al) research and education policy in an imperfect world; 2: Ideology and evidence in English teacher education; 3. The (mis)use of evidence in policy borrowing: A trans-Atlantic case study; 4. ‘Closing the achievement gap’: Rhetoric or reality?; 5. ‘Knowing the ropes?’ Access to higher education in England: 6. The continuing importance of the sociology of education

'...highly readable and interesting throughout, being substantial enough to provide depth, and yet short enough to appeal to busy lecturers, researchers, students and practitioners. One of the book’s key strengths is its wide remit: it considers a range of educational settings and issues within and beyond schooling, and while much of the analysis is based on England, specific examples are discussed within their global context and draw in examples from other

Dr Tania De St Croix, King's College London, British Journal of Educational Studies, Vol 65.2, pages 1-2

‘Geoff Whitty’s new book is a major contribution in the field of sociology of education policy… from the evidence in this excellent book, this important scholar is at the top of his game...’

Steven J. Courtney, University of Manchester, British Journal of Sociology of Education, 38(3), 2017

‘This is a highly readable book in which Geoff Whitty and colleagues highlight... the selective and highly political nature of government evidence-based policy-making.

... it brings readers right up to speed on the latest academic knowledge in a number of areas of key education policy - higher education funding and access, initial teacher education, policies for narrowing achievement gaps at school and more.

.... it also comprises an important critique of what its authors view as being frequently excessive government claims to know 'what works' in education that are overly reliant on 'Global Education Reform Movement' policy rhetoric and on questionable evidence.'

Sonia Exley, London School of Economics, Journal of Education Policy, 32(3), 2017

‘This short and accessible book offers a key overview of the policy landscape and is a ‘must-read’ for researchers, educators and students interested in understanding the interface of policy and research in contemporary education….’

Nicola Ingram, Lancaster University, British Journal of Sociology of Education, 38(3), 2017

... an important book. It provides a deft overview of the landscape of research and policy in education in the United Kingdom, ... a call to action for the academic community to play a more substantial role in engaging in public discussion and in providing voters with a better understanding of complex issues in education. As Whitty argues, if voters reject simple solutions to complex problems, maybe politicans will follow suit.'

Clare Gartland, University of Suffolk, British Journal of Sociology of Education, Vol 38, Issue 3, March 2017

'In this book, Geoff Whitty again demonstrates why he is among the most insightful analysts of education policy and of its assumptions and politics. And once again he shows that it is possible to write about these things in clear and compelling ways. This book is a fine addition to his many other contributions.’

Michael W. Apple, John Bascom Professor of Curriculum and Instruction, University of Wisconsin, Madison

‘This is a timely and hugely significant book. As educational policymaking comes under increasing scrutiny, this book will serve as the benchmark for its analysis. Geoff Whitty brings all his experience as a leading policy analyst and policy adviser to bear with telling effect. The analysis of particular cases of policymaking is enlightening, critical and at the same time balanced. In this his achievement is augmented by the team that have contributed to the book. This will be mandatory reading for anyone in the area.’

Hugh Lauder, Professor of Education and Political Economy, University of Bath

'Geoff Whitty has been a "must read" for all those interested in social justice and the role of education in achieving it for over 35 years. Whether you are a policymaker, a school leader or academic, you read, think and learn every time he writes. For each generation it's like finding a glittering jewel of insight and understanding. Here he brings his thinking into a coherent whole and we are all the better for it.'

Professor Sir Tim Brighouse, Norham Fellow University of Oxford