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Facts first

We have issued the warning before (TESS, January 3) and are happy to see it reinforced this week by such an eminent authority as Professor Carol Fitz-Gibbon (page three): there is too much policy-making on the hoof and we need to re-establish the primacy of research in guiding policy.

There is always likely to be a struggle between classroom realities and ministerial ambitions, egged on by an insatiable media demanding that "something be done". It is a remarkable revelation that Labour in England has introduced 650 initiatives on the basics since it came to power, yet there has been little impact at all on literacy standards.

Research takes time and its conclusions may be unclear. It is the job of ministers to take the decisions. But they ought at least to be well-grounded and based on the evidence.

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