Dr Mary Ratcliffe, lecturer in science education, School of Education, University of Southampton, and chair-elect, Association for Science Education: Maintaining and improving the quality of science education involves both teachers and researchers. Rosalind Driver rightly points to important research in science education.
Teachers require easy access to research findings; support for their own systematic reflections; and opportunity for constructive dialogue. Systematic and useful review of practice is not always easy. It requires clear aims and planning and a mechanism for support. Association for Science Education journals, publications and conferences provide important routes for sharing research and practice but the ASE recognises that the dialogue between "researchers" and teachers is not always as useful as it could be.
We have been compiling a database of UK science education research and have set up a research task group to address issues of access, dissemination and support. This group aims to promote and develop research-based practice, involving both professional researchers experienced in handling large-scale projects and teachers in their own classrooms.
Access to research findings may be a minor issue - the development of a climate within schools to allow teachers to compare their practice with research evidence may be harder to achieve, especially if it involves experimentation and the inevitable investment of time and resources (in schools and universities).
Although the Teacher Training Agency's view of building a research-based profession is to be welcomed, it is to be hoped that it recognises that accumulation of research evidence and reflection are long-term - there is no quick fix.