Are the What Works Centres working? Or is evidence-based policymaking still a pipe dream?

Sir Kevan Collins was interviewed for Civil Service World magazine for a piece on the progress What Works Centre have made in improving decision-making.

Halpern highlights work to use evidence to improve school performance by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) – a charity endowed by government but arm’s-length from it, and one of the What Works Centres. The EEF’s chief executive Sir Kevan Collins says it was a struggle to convince teachers and heads to understand and act on evidence, but the approach is starting to bear fruit – something which has become more important with the move to academies and free schools, in which head teachers are freer to make their own decisions but may be unused to finding and assessing evidence to support these.

“Previously, evidence was not widely used in education. It was largely a tradition of fads and fashions. We very quickly determined the organisation’s focus would be how to supply evidence to enable better decisions, rather than write guidance and use compliance to make people follow it,” Collins says. He adds that the EEF has made “a big push to make sure we present evidence in a way that is accessible to people”.

“We use the phrase ‘disciplined innovation’, as in education there has been no shortage of innovation, [but] it has just been either based on a whim or never been tested.”

Read the full article here.