Government demands leave 'too little time' for teachers to read research

DfE-commissioned research also finds little evidence of teachers directly 'importing' research findings into the classroom.

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Teachers are so busy trying to meet government demands that they have too little time to read research that could help their pupils, a Department for Education-commissioned report has revealed.

Findings published today also show that government policy is seen by school leaders to be more aligned with research evidence than in the past, but still needs improvement in this area.

The report says: "The need to implement new government policies and meet the accountability requirements placed on schools was high in the minds of school leaders and teachers, leaving little time for research engagement or use in many cases.  

"Highly research-engaged leaders felt that that if these requirements were clearly aligned with research evidence then that would alleviate this problem and allow them to meet such requirements whilst ensuring practice is evidence- informed."

But it also says: “There was some evidence from the qualitative research that some teachers and school leaders see current government policy as more evidence-based than in the past, although there was also contradictory evidence on this.”

There is limited evidence of teachers "directly importing research findings to change their practice", the study finds. But research does inform teachers' thinking and leads - at least in some schools - to experimenting, testing out and trialling new approaches "in more or less systematic ways", it adds

Teachers and school leaders were more likely to look towards specialist organisations such as the Education Endowment Foundation, and academics, rather than the DfE when it came to research relating to school improvement.

Most teachers were unlikely to be convinced by research evidence on its own, the study found. Instead, they needed to have this backed up by observing the impact themselves or hearing "trusted colleagues" discuss how it had improved their practice and outcomes for young people. 

Evidence-based teaching: an evaluation of progress in England, is based on research by UCL's Institute of Education, Sheffield Hallam University, and Durham University.

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