Saturday, 6 September 2014

Research Ed 2014 - a few observations and hopes

I am writing this on the train on the way back from the second national research ed conference.

As I read through the twitter feed I realise that I am not alone in very much enjoying the day and finding it worthwhile.

I remember exchanging a couple of tweets with Hélène after the West Midlands conference about the direction that research ed would take. She didn't give much away, but I felt today that the movement took a massive step. At the previous events I felt I was bombarded with 'teachers must engage with research, but watch out for snake oil'. Telling this message to a few hundred teachers is not enough to make it a reality, the barriers to engaging with valid research are difficult to surmount. However, today I have felt that Research Ed is developing into something that can help bridge the gap. Tom Bennett is right about the momentum building and it is good news that he will be able to work on Research Ed more next year.

It was great to hear from Hilary Leevers from the Wellcome Trust who spoke about the great work Wellcome do in supporting science education. One of the comments she made was about how Wellcome would like to use research Ed as one method for spreading word of their research to real classroom teachers. To be able to interface with Hilary and her team at such events could be really valuable to schools. The EEF are engaging with Research Ed and I hope other organisations will too.

My day started with the talk from John Tomsett, Alex Quigley and Rob Coe about the development of the role of research leads in school. I hope Research Ed can help those research leads make links and contacts as well as informing those of us outside of the project of its progress.

I loved Dylan Wiliam's presentation, extremely engaging. However, it also helped me understand the limitations of research and particularly transferring research to other contexts. This was extremely useful. I am interested to read blogs and perhaps watch video from other sessions with the loose theme of interpreting research.

The session with the most laughs was Bob Harrison's. A useful whistle stop tour through research into the impact of educational technology. Again it highlighted issues related to research and of policy.

I wanted to see Paul Black speak, but the room was too full. So I went to see Jonathan Simons from policy exchange. It was a useful insight into the limitations of government and why policy isn't more thoughtful. I imagine Jonathan was trying to be hopeful when he said we can influence policy though social media towards the end of his talk, for me it was scary.

I know there were other sessions about the media and personal appearances by politicians. This is a useful insight for teachers and I think knowing about what goes on can only be a positive thing, helping the profession reflect on what it can do to limit damage by outside influences, whilst also striving to solve issues within education.

Mary Whitehouse and Carol Davenport's sessions were the type of thing I was interested in. I want to go to sessions where I can find out about research work that others are doing and reflect on how it impacts me. The diagnostic questions that York Science are working on are valuable to me and the gender imbalance research is both fascinating and disturbing. I hope that researchers will continue to use research Ed as a vehicle for sharing their ideas.

An extremely positive day. And although I don't have masses and masses to take back to school on Monday, I have had a glimpse of the future of the way that teachers might better understand and link with research.

I hope Ann Mroz doesn't feel the need to add too much red pen to this blog post.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Rodbourne Road,Swindon,United Kingdom

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