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Forum at arm's length

FEW people are yet aware that there is a National Educational Research Forum. Or that the Government has asked it to "provide strategic direction for educational research". But last week's press adverts for a programme director for the forum suggest that it has been busy behind the scenes since last October.

The 19-member body, chaired by Sir Michael Peckham, of University College London, is reconsidering how education research is commissioned, reviewed and disseminated - no mean task. Civil servants in the Department for Education and Employment have provided some administrative support. But it is now felt that the forum needs its own administrator who can produce briefing papers and perhaps offer ome "creative thinking".

The results of the forum's ruminations will be presented for discussion at the British Educational Research Association conference in September.

But its report is not expected before December. "The final document should contain one or two really good ideas on how we develop an education research programme that is high quality and useful," said a senior DFEE official.

That word "useful" will raise fears that the forum is merely following the department's line. But the fact that its new director will be based in the General Teaching Council's London headquarters is said to symbolise the arm's - length distance that the forum intends to keep from the DFEE.

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