It is truly wonderful that trials are now so widely used to make causal inferences in education – long the preserve of theory over empirical evidence. I was delighted to see that England has now become, proportionally, the largest education laboratory in the world. This rapid increase in high-quality empirical research in English schools builds on a £135m grant to establish the Education Endowment Foundation. This organisation has commissioned around a tenth of all RCTs ever carried out in education. Already the results are influencing practice – £26m has been allocated to fund breakfast clubs, for example. Many ‘fads’ have been disproven, for example tailoring education according to individual learning styles, streaming pupils by ability, or repeating a year of school. Building on Hattie’s monumental work previously cited in your News Blog, the Education Endowment Foundation has summarised the findings from 13,000 educational trials from around the world. Two-thirds of English teachers have turned to this evidence for guidance. This is a huge success for the values of the Enlightenment and an indication that we are moving to be, in Donald Campbell’s words, “an experimenting society.”
— Richard Lilford, CLAHRC WM Director
- The Economist. England has become one of the world’s biggest education laboratories. The Economist. Mar 31, 2018.
- Education Endowment Foundation. The EEF at 5. 2016.
- Lilford RJ. Evidence-Based Education (or How Wrong the CLAHRC WM Director Was). NIHR CLAHRC West Midlands News Blog. 10 March 2017.
- Lilford RJ. Keeping a Child Back at School. NIHR CLAHRC West Midlands News Blog. 10 March 2017.
- Hattie J. Visible Learning: A Synthesis of Over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement. Oxon, UK: Routledge, 2009.