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Upside-down thinking

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Professor Robert Coe, a researcher at Durham University and former teacher, thinks only 1% of university research has any real impact on classroom practice. Thus said he recently at the Sunday Times Festival of Education to an audience packed full of teachers.

I asked him if he agreed with the following statement:

We have to follow the evidence when it comes to figuring out how best to help people learn. Many schools are seeing the value of teachers spending more time trying to work on their practice and devoting more time to CPD each year.

In Singapore, Shanghai, Hong Kong – leading school systems – teachers teach a lot less than they do in the UK. In order to afford this, their schools have bigger classes. Research suggests that larger classes do not necessarily have a depressing impact on teaching effectiveness, as long as the teacher is a highly competent practitioner.

Let’s get universities locating their research departments inside schools, running action research projects across groups of schools. University researchers and teachers could work closely together and figure out what works. Re-focus all research funding related to schools on schools themselves, NOT universities.


Professor Coe’s response, with a big smile on his face: "What an interesting idea …".

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