Alix Robertson –
Schools minister Nick Gibb has slammed academics refusing to engage with researchED, an international project that aims to make teachers research-literate.
Speaking at researchED’s fifth annual national conference at Chobham Academy in Stratford, Gibb pulled no punches in criticising those who have shunned the project.
“It’s a shame some would rather stay in their ivory towers than participate in today,” he said.
“The intellectual timidity of those who choose to sneer at researchED, whilst refusing to debate their evidence, stands in stark contrast to the effort that researchED makes to be inclusive for all.”
“ResearchED is a grassroots, teacher-led revolt against the old order in education,” Gibb said.
Started in 2013 by classroom teacher Tom Bennett, the conference has grown in recent years to over 1,000 attendees.
In recent months critics have charged Bennett with trying to commercialise the endeavour and of repeatedly inviting a small number of speakers.
It’s a shame some would rather stay in their ivory towers than participate
However Gibb said the conferences are “changing the relationship between teachers and education research” and pointed to researchers with differing views.
“The research historically presented to teachers was monotone in content and it was seldom used. ResearchED is different,” he added.
“By granting a platform to a wide range of views the currency of speakers is the quality of the evidence they are presenting, and teachers can vote with their feet.”
Gibb praised recent comments from researchED founder Tom Bennett, who has warned that “wild, unchecked pseudoscience abounds” saying that “bogus fads like learning styles and brain gym are the least of it.”
The minister also used his speech to sing the praises of the Ebacc, describing it as “a benefit to all pupils, irrespective of prior attainment, irrespective of their background or their sex”.
“The government will continue making the case of Ebacc,” he told listeners, insisting “we must push back the voices of opposition”.
“The government is determined that schools around the country follow the evidence and grow the number of pupils that have access to these subjects,” he added.
Gibb also spoke approving of the use of phonics as an approach to teaching reading, saying that England’s schools have seen a “a reading revolution”.
“Literacy is the foundation of a high quality knowledge rich education,” he said.
He took the opportunity to highlight free school success as well, describing them as “as petri dishes, they have shined a light on what works in schools” and “a revolution that cannot be ignored”.