Spencer, E. and Hayward, L. and MacBride, G. and Ekevall, E. (2009) Research policy and practice - commitment, complexity and uncertainty: a case study of a government research council funded project, engineering the future. In: ECER - The European Conference on Educational Research 2009, 2009-09-28 - 2009-09-30, Vienna, Austria. (Unpublished)
Evidence based policy formation, both at EU and national level, built upon close linkage of research, policy and practice is regarded by many as an optimum solution. However, while there are many examples in European education of any two of these communities collaborating in development, the realisation of meaningful inter-relationships among all three communities is complex (Ball 1997). Evidence is often contested, while policy is determined not only by explicit political philosophies but also by deeply embedded assumptions. This paper examines this complexity through the lens of a case study in one country, Scotland, which illuminates relationships among the policy, research and practitioner communities at national and local levels and the nature of their contributions to national curriculum development. The paper explores potential tensions between the development of participative ways of working and the existing structures and ways of thinking within an education system, and examines limitations on what can be effected within existing governance systems. Since 1999 the Scottish Parliament sets the legal framework for education in Scotland; within this the Scottish government has full responsibility for education policy and provision. Following the outcomes of a government initiated National Debate on the purposes and practices of school education, Scotland?s school system has for the last six years been the locus of an extensive and radical development programme in curriculum, assessment and pedagogy (Curriculum for Excellence).
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