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'Base policies on research'

More evidence-based research and less hard policy are needed in the classroom to improve teaching and learning of children whose needs have changed from 20 years ago, England's former education secretary told a Welsh audience last week.

But the controversial figure, who famously resigned in 2002 after key literacy and numeracy targets were missed, was full of praise for the Welsh baccalaureate qualification during a lively address to an audience at Cardiff Museum last week, saying it had been a coup for the nation.

Baroness Morris, president of the National Children's Bureau, was guest speaker at the General Teaching Council for Wales's 2007 conference.

In her lecture entitled "Is our education policy based on research?" she said education had to play catch-up with health policies.

She called for teachers, academics and politicians to unite and push "the frontiers of knowledge" in teaching and learning based on tried and tested research.

Baroness Morris said congratulations were in order in Wales for the evidence base of the made-in-Wales bac. "What England would say is, 'You try it in Wales, you will make mistakes and we will learn from it,'" she said.

Later she said teachers needed to have more access to the latest research, referring to The TES as a source.

"There is nothing in the structure of a teacher's day that really makes it policy they are going to have to do that research. Quite clearly, if politicians want to get involved with teaching and learning, there is an onus on them to look at research and take it into account."

After the lecture Gary Brace, GTCW chief executive, cited their Teacher Research Scholarship, funded by the Assembly government's continuing professional development fund, as an example of how Wales's teachers are keeping in touch with the latest good practice in the classroom.

So far, almost 600 Welsh teachers have taken part in academic research in the classroom, adjusting their methods based on results.

"In Wales, we accept long-term solutions to this problem," he said.

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