Researchers ignored

March 3, 2006

Richard Austen-Baker's claims (Letters, February 24) that school-leavers have literacy problems as a result of the influence of "educationists" on the Government and school system are laughable.

Through all the years of Conservative government, which included the establishment of the National Curriculum that still dominates the school system, the findings of careful, empirical, practically oriented educational research were ignored in favour of the prejudices and bright ideas of ministers and their ill-informed advisers.

Under Labour, things have been better: we educational researchers are now at least consulted, but the influence of research findings on policy and practice is still limited. And rather than encouraging research-based training for teachers, we still see attempts to remove universities from their training role.

If the results of research on academic literacy and classroom teaching had been taken into account in recent decades, it is unlikely that students entering university would now face the problems described.

Neil Mercer Faculty of educationCambridge University

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