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Looking back to Forth

Doubtless others will question Gerard Kelly's endorsement of Ben Goldacre's report ("Not 'enemies of promise' but not credible either", Editorial, 29 March), as evaluating classroom practice is more complex than checking the efficacy of therapeutic drugs. But education researchers address many wider questions and I suggest the real issue lies elsewhere.

The late education minister Eric Forth was fond of saying: "We don't have much time for educational research: either it confirms government policy, which is superfluous; or contradicts it, which is unhelpful." Few of his successors have been that candid but it seems the attitude persists. How to divert attention from deep cuts in education research spending and the lack of evidential support for controversial policies? Just set up a celebrity expert from another field to make a clumsy intervention and watch your critics attack the Aunt Sally. Nice one.

Alan Parker, Former director of education and schools adjudicator, Croydon.

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