No evidence of hidden hands at work

19th July 1996 at 01:00
David Hargreaves is entitled to his view of educational research but his perception of some of the facts differs markedly from mine (TES, June 28).

His claim, for example, that "almost all the money devoted to [research] is allocated on the basis of peer review" will puzzle policy-makers in central and local government, in professional and teacher organisations, in industry, and in a very wide range of educational and charitable organisations. Between them they provide a sizeable, and much-valued, chunk of the resources for research. Have they all, from the Secretary of State downwards, been deluded about who was actually making the decisions? Has the hidden hand of academe been at work all along? I doubt it.

I looked at research funding in education in great detail in 1992. Precise figures are difficult to establish, but only about half was allocated through peer review. Not much has changed since then. How has "about half" become "almost all"?

Looking to the future, Professor Hargreaves suggested, among other things, that "the Office for Standards in Education should have a research division to analyse the evidence inspectors collect". This time I was puzzled. A large number of educational researchers have not only met some of the 15-20 members of OFSTED's research division but worked with them. Furthermore, researchers have been engaged with OFSTED on precisely the kind of agenda Professor Hargreaves proposes for some while.

JOHN GRAY Homerton College Cambridge

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