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Educational research

Young people need the best possible education if they are to thrive in a rapidly changing world. Yet as the world changes, so too does the nature of education itself. Governments across the world spend billions on education, making crucial decisions about how to deploy resources. Getting it right matters. That is why education policy and practice should be informed by the best available research evidence.

Why educational research is important

Education in the UK would benefit from a strong foundation on evidence, and the principle for basing education policy on research needs to be re-established. The Royal Society believes that educational research provides the underpinning evidence to improve education, but there are sizeable gaps in knowledge and understanding.

This requires collaboration between science and mathematics education researchers, scientists, teaching professionals, policy makers and the public.

Harnessing educational research

In collaboration with the British Academy, our report Harnessing educational research assesses the state of educational research in the UK and sets out an ambitious vision for the future.

Researchers, practitioners, and policymakers identified mismatches between supply and demand, leading to a lack of sustained research effort.

The report proposes a new Office for Education Research. This would bring together governments, governmental organisations, researchers, teachers and funders to discuss and debate their research priorities. Its role would then be to support them in co-developing strategies for addressing these priorities.

Recommendations are for governments, UKRI, higher education institutions and education organisations such as learned societies, regulators, and professional bodies to help remove barriers and improve outcomes from formal (4-18) education. 

They include:

  1. Connecting supply and demand
  2. Understanding the geography of the research ecosystem
  3. Improving collaboration
  4. Securing the supply of expert researchers
  5. Ensuring quality related funding
  6. Supporting use of research to inform teaching
  7. Recognising the needs of policymakers
  8. Making more use of evidence synthesis

Improving collaboration in the ecosystem event

To take forward this recommendation, the Royal Society and the British Academy hosted an Educational Research Forum, which brought together educational researchers, policy makers and teaching practitioners to talk about shared challenges and opportunities in educational research.