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Achievement record research deserves credit for enthusiasm

I am greatly saddened that Jackie Kearns chose the example of the National Evaluation of Records of Achievement to endorse David Hargreaves' claim that a great deal of research is second-rate and irrelevant (TES, Letters, July 19).

Ms Kearns, the former director of the London Record of Achievement Project, claims that she has yet to find anyone else who has actually read the voluminous tomes that came out of the national evaluation. Whom has she asked, I wonder?

I was one of the co-directors of that project along with the late Desmond Nuttall, whose job at the time was not in academia, but director of research and statistics at the Inner London Education Authority - Ms Kearns' boss.

When the results of the evaluation were published in the late 1980s, there was enormous interest from teachers, LEA personnel, school governors, parents and the media, as well as academics. Policy-makers in other countries interested in developing records of achievement, such as Australia and New Zealand, have also drawn on the work of the national evaluation.

In fact, the Government's records of achievement initiative represented what was arguably a unique partnership between government, teachers, Her Majesty's Inspectorate and researchers. Teachers' enthusiasm fuelled the Government's policy initiative. Teachers and researchers together provided the evidence which informed the 1989 guidelines for records of achievement. The national record of achievement is now an entitlement for every pupil.

Subsequent changes in policy priorities have meant that many of the original aspirations for the records of achievement have not been fulfilled. It is sad that Ms Kearns should undermine one of the more influential and useful pieces of educational research to make her point.

PATRICIA BROADFOOT School of education University of Bristol

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