Researchers from Plymouth University are among a group of leading academics who have drawn up an evidence-based manifesto detailing how governments should use previous research as the basis for future education policies.

The four-point plan has been developed by six special interest groups within the British Educational Research Association (BERA) and seeks to promote fair and equal education by creating an evidence-based policy manifesto that respects children and young people.

Dr Ruth Boyask, Lecturer in Education Studies at Plymouth University, is among the leaders of the project – being launched at an event in London on Tuesday 10 March – and said its instigators felt there was a long history of education policies not being influenced heavily enough by the results of academic research.

She said:

“The development of successful education policies should be centred on creating rounded individuals who can make a difference to society. Academic attainment is obviously part of that, but it should be balanced with valuing and supporting other kinds of achievement and encouraging children and young people to build better relationships with one another.
“We recognise we do not hold all the answers, but within research there is enough evidence to suggest some ways forward and show us the direction of travel. Our members have extensive knowledge of education, and we want to be part of the debate and play a greater role in the future development of fairer government policies.”

The alternative manifesto draws on academic research from the past 40 years, and was initiated to mark BERA’s 40th anniversary in 2014.

In a 20-page document, its researchers highlight four guiding principles underpinned by a number of possible actions, and recommend future Governments develop policies which promote:

  • Fair and relevant curriculum and attainment that leads to meaningful opportunities, like employment and further study;
  • High quality, research-informed professionals to work with children and young people;
  • Education that recognises and appropriately responds to the differences that make substantive differences in children and young people’s lives; and
  • Education that is developed and evaluated fairly and rigorously, and is accountable to children, young people, their families and the communities in which they live.

Professor Ian Menter, President of BERA, said:

“All too often we may criticise politicians for not paying sufficient attention to research findings. Here we have a document that can help everyone to be better informed in the crucial arguments about how the lives of our young citizens are being shaped.”