Becky Francis: “Surface-level compliance is the biggest threat to any change in education”

Our education system is more research-rich than ever – but evidence lives or dies in the detail, writes EEF chief executive Prof. Becky Francis, in an article just published in Tes. Here's an excerpt:

... However alluring, the promise of evidence isn’t that we will discover “cures” to low literacy or numeracy.

Instead, our practice will improve incrementally, as insights and improvements accumulate. We see this in the way schools have changed the way they deploy and train teaching assistants, and in the growing interest in metacognition and how we learn.

The truth about the hardest question though – whether research evidence will really help – is that it is down to the profession, and to school and college leaders.

Our system is more evidence-rich than a decade ago. But leaders face a clear choice about the ways in which they use it.

Ironically, as the language of evidence proliferates, there is a risk that it loses its impact. Surface-level compliance is the biggest threat to any change in education.

For evidence, which lives or dies in the detail, that worries me a great deal. We know the stories of triple-marking and the mini-plenary.

Instead, evidence must help to democratise education. The studies the EEF publishes are owned by the profession. Our Toolkit represents a knowledge base built by literally millions of teachers and students around the world.

Evidence does not provide easy solutions, but evidence-informed improvement is a process that has integrity and holds greater promise than any alternative.

You can read Becky Francis's article in full here.