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Think-tank calls for new commission on learning

Ministers will be advised to set up a "commission on learning" to give schools guidance on the latest teaching techniques and end poorly-coordinated research.

The recommendation will be made next Tuesday by the think-tank Demos in a report commissioned last summer by David Miliband, then school standards minister.

Mr Miliband asked the influential think-tank to investigate what the Government should do to make schools develop "personalised education" and techniques to help pupils learn how to learn.

Demos set up a working group of three academics and three headteachers, led by David Hargreaves, former head of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, to examine these issues.

The team found that there was inadequate knowledge among teachers about learning methods, a lack of evidence for new teaching techniques, and that education research was generally "uncoordinated and rudderless".

Recommendations the group will make next week include that the Government should set up a commission on learning, either within the Department for Education and Skills or as an outside agency.

The commission, which would have a small permanent staff, would decide what the most promising developments were in research on learning and publish reports for schools.

Other recommendations include that the Government should consider giving the most innovative schools an "Investors in Learning" award, similar to that of Investor in People.

It may seem unlikely that the DfES would wish to establish a new body at a time when it is cutting civil servants' jobs.

The report will be launched at a joint conference on personalised learning held by the Specialist Schools Trust and the Secondary Heads Association.

Ruth Kelly, Education Secretary, said last week at the North of England Education Conference in Manchester: "Parents want their children's individual needs to be recognised, understood and responded to: 'personalisation', in education jargon."

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