I've said it before: if they ever want to remake Die Hard in a Whitehall department – and I can't see any rational impediment to this idea – they should look no further than the Nakatomi Plaza of Great Smith Street, Sanctuary Building. The building, which is home to the Department for Education (DfE), has an atrium in which a whole troop of Bruce Willises could happily caper, barefoot.
More conventionally shod, I had an appointment with two people there this week, whom I shall only call "Stuart" and "Rachel". Code-name Rachel was present in video conference only, something I still find odd, like singing barbershop via an iPhone on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise. Rest assured, citizens, your tax dollars have not been left idle as far as remote networking conference suites are concerned.
I was there to discuss research, the work of researchED and ways in which the department might profitably get involved in promoting good research to teachers. I often hear people complain that the department doesn't do enough to talk to teachers. I don't know what they're talking about, I've been in half a dozen times now and I assure you I know nothing about anything. Seriously, get on to that Twitter, blog a bit, take a ticket and get in line – you'll probably get a call eventually. What people often forget is that most people in the department are dying to know what teachers think, not being in schools themselves. The question is, if the Ministry wanted to hear the opinions of teachers, whom should they ask? As far as I know, they already speak to every body and representative organisation this side of madness. Enough already with the "they don't listen" mantra. Agree or disagree with the policies, but there sure is some listening happening, in my opinion.
What's healthy is that the DfE wants to promote useful research as much as possible, in order to help schools and teachers in their roles. I could only bang my drum to the same beat I always do: push the good stuff, starve the bad and involve teachers as much as possible. There are dozens of organisations and charities, thousands of groups and individuals, all pumping out research, cranking out papers – and there are a lot of teachers who'd be happy to meet them. This is one of the aims of researchED, the grassroots organisation I started last year. This year, we're lining up a load of events and projects, from an online magazine and a series of regional conferences to partnerships with all of the major research bodies with an aim of bringing the research and the teaching communities even closer.
Speaking of which, I can announce that the first regional researchED 2014 will be held at the beginning of April in the Midlands, which for all I know is next to the Shire (I don't know, I'm Scottish). But I'll be there, and so can you if you want: follow us on Twitter or check the website for details, which will be announced very soon. It'll follow a similar DNA to the national conference, but smaller, more intimate, maybe an actual break for lunch and a chance to meet people this time. Please come along – the motto of researchED2013 was "working out what works" and this meeting will try to focus on research that teachers might find useful, as well as continuing to build links between the world of research and teaching.
I was speaking to someone in education research who said to me, "Why do we have to talk to teachers? What could they possibly tell us?" And I spoke to a teacher who asked, "Nothing research says would change the way I taught." ResearchED is for anyone who thinks either of those perspectives might leave something to be desired. If you want to come, to get involved or help, then feel free to get involved. Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweet us at @researched2013 (man, I really didn't think enough about future proofing that did I?) and I'll get back to you. This is one of those things that we really can make our own if we want to. It's time for teachers to be heard in one of the arenas where we still often have to sit at the back of the bus.