Evidence led policy and practice is a mantra with which we are all familiar. Politicians have been repeating it for years, without quite understanding what it means and, to be frank , its probably been more honoured in its breach than its observance . Good evidence is vital. We need to identify good evidence and make sure that it is disseminated , managed and helps to improve outcomes at the chalk face and in support of teachers professional development..
The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) is busy identifying evidence and establishing what works and doesnt work-what is proven and unproven. It has produced an accessible Toolkit to help teachers, Heads and governors to invest the pupil premium wisely, to improve the outcomes for disadvantaged pupils and to narrow the attainment gap.
But Robbie Coleman, EEFs Research and Communications Manager ,urges caution on the evidence front . He claims, with unanswerable logic , that evidence cannot act as a substitute for values
He writes in an EEF blog post :
‘Evidence is good at helping us work out how to get where we want to go. It can provide some ideas we may not have thought of, and alert us to areas where others have struggled in the past. In essence, it can serve as a map to help us get to a destination.But evidence can’t tell us where we want to go in the first place. If we forget this, we end up following whichever road we find first, and only attributing value to the things we can easily measure’.
His last phrase has a particular resonance. Arguably anything that cant be measured easily is now regarded as a second order priority in our schools.