We need 'hotbeds of education research' to target schools in disadvantaged areas, says Justine Greening

Education secretary outlines her vision for research programmes to be embedded in areas with low social mobility

Eleanor Busby

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Education research needs to be focused on schools in areas with high levels of disadvantage, Justine Greening said today.

Speaking to education leaders in Westminster, the education secretary called for research programmes to be embedded in “opportunity areas” – the social mobility coldspots outlined at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham last month. 

Ms Greening said she wanted evidence-based research to be targeted at schools in the 10 identified areas – which include Blackpool, Derby, Norwich, Oldham, Scarborough and West Somerset. 

Speaking at an Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) event, the education secretary said: “We need to look inside schools and try some of these approaches. I am really keen to work with the EEF [on] that.

“But we also need to look outside schools and understand how we can work with parents affected, communities, businesses on how we can set aspirations and sights high."

At the Conservative conference, Ms Greening announced that the 10 “opportunity areas” would be given £60 million in extra funding for teacher support and school improvement in order to boost social mobility.

Attracting teachers to deprived areas

The scheme will be trialled in six areas initially, with a further four areas yet to be announced.

Today Ms Greening said that making opportunity areas "hotbeds of research" could attract teachers interested in professional development.

"I think it is going to be research in the classroom [that] will encourage teachers to try new things and to go to some of the areas that we are interested in seeing results improving," the education secretary said. 

“I think we can do it. I think we can involve research in that and I believe, dare I say it, embedding research in that 'opportunity area' work as it starts to roll out is something that we are really, really, really keen to do.”

Ms Greening was speaking at the fifth anniversary conference of the charity EEF, which has delivered projects in close to one third of all UK schools. She added: "I hope that in the next five years we will be talking about how we scale up some of those initial pieces of work and how they start to transform lives in our country.

"My aim and my ambition is to be seen as the country where this kind of research and this sort of trailblazing is routine."

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