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Research Seminar: No government policy in any affluent country has had an impact on basic skills in the last decade

(28 November 2018)

This seminar will take place on Wednesday, 12 December at 1pm in ED134 at the School of Education. It will be led by Professor Peter Tymms and everyone is welcome to attend. Booking is not required. For more information please contact

We have a problem

Over the last few decades serious attempts have been made, by policticians, to raise standards in England and many other countries. Billions of pounds have been spent. Alongside this educational researchers have made enormous efforts to understand schools and pedagogy. They have used their strongest methodology to discover “things that work”. Thousands of academic papers have been published, hundreds of PhDs produced and many millions of pounds won in grants. But the most recent research shows that almost no progress has been made in raising basic skill, or in knowing how to do so.

  • No policy change in any OECD country has had a meaningful impact on the high profile PISA scores of countries.
  • The most rigorously based research into educational interventions on a large scale show that even the best have almost no impact.

It is time to stop using explanations such as: “There was not a good theoretical basis to such and such a study”, “Governments chop and change and are not well advised”, “We need more data/research”, “Once we look at sub-groups we find …”, etc There is something deeper going on in our educational systems than we have acknowledged and this talk will suggest what that deeper thing might be and what implications this has for research and policy.

Have something to include?

Please liaise with the designated contact for your department or college. For further guidance, email

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