Open Thinkering


Time for a NICE-r kind of education?

Teaching may be as much of an art as a science, but there’s stuff that we know works in education. Whilst context definitely matters there are things – like timely, formative feedback – that can be done well no matter where you are and what situation you’re in.

To my mind, we should have something like the NHS Evidence website for things relating to pedagogy. It could provide answers to questions like:

  • Where’s the evidence for using tablet computers in education?
  • Where can I find out more about different forms of assessment?
  • Is there a sound research basis for giving homework?

The NHS Evidence website is provided by NICE – the National Institute for Clinical Excellence. We have nothing similar for education. Although health is as much of a political football as education, at least they’ve got a research basis.

If there’s no political will to separate politics and education, perhaps it’s time for a non-profit to do this kind of stuff? Or perhaps they are and they need more publicity?

18 thoughts on “Time for a NICE-r kind of education?

  1. Some others are thinking along similar lines Doug: and for example. Always interesting to consider what counts as ‘what works’ as well as what counts as evidence of such – given the range of methodologies and theoretical backgrounds looking at education. Gurt Biesta provides a nice Sunday morning read ‘Why “what works” won’t work’ 🙂

    1. Great stuff, Dan. I hadn’t seen the EEF stuff and the Nesta programme I thought pertained to areas other than education.

      And as for Biesta, I haven’t read it yet but I’m guessing it’s going be some Latour-like discussion of us living in a post-truth society? Nice one. 🙂

  2. Hi Doug,

    We have been aiming to do something similar to this idea at ….. It’s a proof of concept rather than the finished article, but Its time to set up a professional body of educators, not a union, a General Educators Council… To represent the profession, membership contingent upon verification of appropriate investment by the member in their own CPD.etc

    Maybe the two are different concepts. Not sure.


    1. Great stuff, Pete – and the good thing about this kind of thing that it doesn’t necessarily have to be rubber-stamped by a government body. It would be nice if it were, of course, but at least here the agenda is reasonably transparent.

  3. While we’re at it… Long term strategies would be nice e..g in my own field using software & hardware “because everyone does”, “because it’s industry standard” are not good arguments. Software evolves, hardware evolves (& degrades); you should select both on outcomes but also on sustainability and inclusion. For example expecting pupils or parents to have paid for software when non-pay alternatives exist that are more than adequate is foolish and discriminates against the less well-off. Making a (poorly informed[1]) decision that requires buying expensive hardware is far worse; the cost should also be a factor in the decision to implement that new technology.

    Making IT (or other!) purchasing decisions on a guiding pirinciple of mustn’t require the teacher to learn something new misses the whole point of education. If a teacher won’t learn, how on earth can you expect the pupil to?

    [1] Poorly informed: if you make a decision regarding narrow IT hardware choices based on studies more than 6 months old without checking what has changed your decision is almost certainly misinformed; it is *at best* poorly informed

      1. The new Police commissioners for south of the border will be “about strategy” as is Transport for London which is Boris’s big baby so I would imagine that the Prime-minister-in-waiting talking about edu-organising is already writing Education policies that include whatever comes into his pretty little head (Have I Got News for You/Dave/..)

  4. I was thinking about just this topic yesterday, when my son was struggling through a mass of homework that seemed to be designed to knock any desire to learn out of him!

    I’d love to know why homework has become one of those things that are just assumed to be part of what a “good school” does. Has anyone done some real comparisons on this?


    1. I’m fairly sure that it’s used along with yearly (or if you’re lucky, biannual) parents evenings as a proxy for home-school engagement.

      I haven’t got any links to hand – which is part of the problem – but I’m fairly sure that homework helps those already with cultural and social capital, but further cements inequality for those who haven’t.

      (Hattie’s effect size for homework is .43 but I think that masks some socio-economic effects…)

    2. Homework was a way of managing large family dynamics ie kids banished to pods in the recesses of the house. Less kids these days ….

  5. I always think that teaching isn’t great at sharing anything, as I’m always reminded as I spend my own time creating schemes of work for new courses (ICT teacher so almost one every year!) that hundreds of teachers up and down the country are doing the same.

    1. During my ICT teaching I spent light years scanning the web for relevant stuff but often wondered whether students were the same as I seldom (no make that never) found inspiration from the various govt initiatives or indeed stuff posted by other teachers. As ever, its a boy thing as my daughter(s) both seem to excel at discovering the right material off such as TES that enable them to enjoy the fruits of Easyjet this sunny half term holiday.

      1. Wow, I seem to have had the exact opposite experience to you two. Perhaps it’s a subject-based thing, but I found the resources produced by the History teaching community to be freely shared and of a high standard. 🙂

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