A call to saddle up for research

7th December 2012 at 00:00

Education Scotland chief executive Bill Maxwell wants every teacher in the country to be involved in research within five years, as part of the push to create a more "evidence-based" profession.

He admits such a scenario is a way off, but has drawn inspiration from the team that helped Bradley Wiggins win the Tour de France ahead of schedule.

Dr Maxwell told TESS this week of his hopes that "every teacher would engage in some form of research". This would not always be formal academic-level work; for many teachers the research would involve evaluating one's own practice.

His comments come as Education Scotland sets out its aims for the next three years, during which time he wants to see a "more evidence-based improvement culture" take hold.

"There are the beginnings of that in the system," Dr Maxwell said. "It's early days - I think it's still a few enthusiasts who really engage in it properly."

Three years might be too early for every teacher to be engaged in research, he said, but five years was an achievable target, with the General Teaching Council for Scotland's professional update helping to drive that forward.

In a speech at Inveralmond Community High in Livingston, Dr Maxwell had earlier revealed his admiration for the British cycling team led by Dave Brailsford - and how its success could be applied to Scottish education.

Brailsford espoused the "aggregation of marginal gains": if everyone in the team does their job a little better, the overall benefits can be dramatic. But Brailsford also encouraged his team to "think out of the box" by, for example, making fundamental changes to equipment.

As a result, Team Sky helped Bradley Wiggins become the tour's first British winner. This happened in three years, when even the five-year target set by the team had been widely viewed as extremely ambitious.

henry.hepburn@tess.co.uk.

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