- Research and development (R&D) should be framed in terms of an ‘evidence pipeline’, which takes developers on a journey from promising innovations through to large scale proven models. This process should be underpinned by research methods that are relevant for the point of development and the resources available at that stage.
- Whilst more experimental trials (e.g. RCTs) should be welcomed, they should be seen as valuable tools within the developmental timeline of an intervention or strategy, rather than a research panacea.
- Schemes such as the ESRC’s Knowledge Exchange Opportunities should be expanded, enabling social science researchers to be embedded in frontline services. Likewise, opportunities for practitioners to get involved in Development and Research (D&R) partnerships with universities should be encouraged.
- Knowledge mobilisation activities should be extended from beyond simply communicating research, to considering how it is effectively engaged and applied to practice. A range of brokerage activities, which support interactions between researchers, practitioners and intermediaries, should be funded and evaluated.
- A concerted effort is needed to build the necessary time, skills and resources within practice to support research use at scale. Examples of activities that would help include:
- Professional bodies, such as a proposed College of Teachers, should be empowered to play a coordinating role in supporting evidence–informed practice and setting professional standards, led by practitioners and at arm’s length from government. There should be strong attachments to university departments and opportunities for cross–over between academics and practitioners.
- Government needs to ensure there is coordination across different elements of evidence ecosystems, including different research databases, programme clearinghouses, dissemination and brokerage activities, as well as capacity building efforts within practice. This is crucial as sectors become increasingly decentralised.
- To address inconsistencies in the implementation of evidence–based approaches (e.g. restorative justice, formative assessment), as much effort at the policy level needs to be placed on how the evidence is applied as on what the evidence says. Enterprises such as the Education Endowment Foundation should be expanded and replicated to ensure a regular throughput of proven innovations to help get the evidence working in practice.
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