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Durham University

The Department of Philosophy


Publication details for Professor Nancy Cartwright

Cartwright, N., Cowen, N., Virk, B. & Mascarenhas-Keyes, S. (2015). Making the Most of the Evidence: Evidence-based policy in the classroom. CHESS Working Paper 2015-03.

Author(s) from Durham


What allows research evidence to contribute to successful social policy and improve practice
in public services? The establishment of the What Works Network, a group of evidence ‘clearing
houses’, that summarise academic research evidence for practitioners in different policy areas, heralds a
resurgence of evidence-based approaches in British policymaking. This report outlines the existing
literature analysing the process of implementing evidence-informed policy, with a particular focus on
the field of primary and secondary education. New data, based on interviews with teachers in primary
and secondary schools, along with the analysis of existing literature, suggest that understanding the
rationale for a particular policy approach and recognising relevant contextual factors are crucial for
selecting and implementing successful policies. This suggests that local knowledge, as well as
professional judgement and expertise, are critical contributors to policymaking alongside formal
scientific research evidence.


CHESS Working Paper No. 2015-03.