The question of whether teaching is an art or a science is an old saw. I’d query the assumption that it should be a binary choice.
Attendees at ResearchEd conference in East London were spoilt for choice; Tom Bennett and the ResearchEd team had secured a hugely impressive programme that covered a wide range of different research-related themes. A common thread throughout was the desire to see better and more research used in teaching, culminating in a stimulating discussion hosted by GL Assessment on how to put research into the hands of teachers.
Representatives from the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), Teach First, Wellington College (and many more) gave their views on how to ensure best practice through evidence-led research.
The EEF described their network of research schools and their plans to scale the impact of their work through them. Teach First described their plans to curate current research findings to make them more digestible for their trainees, and also called for all teachers to have a broader understanding of the basics of statistical analysis and the work of the EEF. Meanwhile, Carl Hendrick (Wellington College) made the point that research can do a lot to reduce wasted time in the classroom by pointing teachers to activities with discernible impact. This, in turn, could have a very positive impact on teaching and learning, given that reducing teacher workload has been a key goal for many in education in recent years.
Our panel discussion brought together Carl Hendrick, Daisy Christodoulou (No More Marking), Summer Turner (Inspiration Trust) and Chris Dale (Samuel Ward Academy Trust). The session highlighted some of the challenges that lie ahead, but also provided an optimistic impression of the direction of travel for the teaching profession. In a lively discussion, many analogies were made between the medical and educational worlds. 150 years ago, much medical knowledge was based on weak or non-existent evidence. The transition since then has been such that the established standard now is to treat patients according to the evidence that a particular course of action is proven to work. It’s clear from the sessions at conference that there is an appetite to move education down a similar route.
The question of whether teaching is an art or a science is an old saw. I’d query the assumption that it should be a binary choice. One thing is for sure though – it is getting much easier for teachers to access evidenced ways of working to make teaching more like a science than ever before.
By David Hilton, Business Development Manager, GL Assessment