'Championing the rights of children'

New randomised controlled trials will drive forward evidence-based research

Garry Sat 04 May 2013 08:12

Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) will raise the bar in education and children’s services by increasing the use of quantitative evidence.

The Department for Education today announced it would run 2 new RCTs.

RCTs are most often associated with medicine but their use in other fields, including education, remains relatively low.

The decision to run the trials follows recommendations made by ‘Bad science’ author Dr Ben Goldacre in a report which examined the role of evidence in the education sector. The report was commissioned by Education Secretary Michael Gove and published in March 2013.

Dr Goldacre said high-quality research into different approaches should be embedded as seamlessly as possible into everyday activity in education. He said this would not only benefit pupils but increase teachers’ independence. Drawing on comparisons between education and medicine, he said medicine had ‘leapt forward’ by creating a simple infrastructure that supports evidence-based practice, making it commonplace.

The 2 RCTs announced today are on school attainment in mathematics and science and Safeguarding Assessment and Analysis Framework (SAAF) child protection assessment tool.
School attainment in mathematics and science

This project will see 480 schools shown how their pupils’ maths and science exam results fit against those of schools with similar intakes. Participating heads and teachers will then be able to compare and collaborate to raise standards. The project is led by the Institute of Education and funded through the Department for Education Research Centre, the Centre for Understanding Behavioural Change (CUBeC). The project will start later this month and will report in summer 2015.

Read more ... (DfE - 3 May)