Woodhead's opponents

September 12, 1997

ROGER Murphy: dean of education at the University of Nottingham, and last year's president of the British Educational Research Association.

Professor Murphy sparked the response to the Woodhead camp before the BERA Conference.

He said that even research for the sake of research has its place, Professor Murphy argued, in a "free country with academic freedom".

John Elliott: head of the centre of applied research in education at the University of East Anglia.

Professor Elliott has been a leading advocate of "getting teachers involved in researching their own education practices", as well as promoting Woodhead-friendly research with an immediate relevance to classroom practice "We need to ask where this nebulous and obscure research actually is," he said. "It is a mistake to keep arguing about the irrelevance of a lot of research when universities have been playing a major role in trying to break down the barriers between theory and practice. There is a lot more interaction between teachers and researchers now. Woodhead's concern is that most teacher trainers write and publish papers about issues which they encounter as teacher trainers. Is it really about the irrelevence of the research or is it the fact that the research is providing data which could be used to throw critical light on current policy?" Michael Bassey: executive secretary of BERA, and emeritus professor at Nottingham Trent University: "Woodhead should know better. He's just found a new group of people to bash.

"Six or seven years ago I'd say that some research was trivial pursuits, but there has been an enormous improvement.

Only Pounds 66 million was spent on educational research, he said, which comprised only 0.17 per cent of the national expenditure on education.

"This is dangerously inadequate. Perhaps 0.3 per cent would be sufficient to ensure that priority areas were more adequately researched and findings used and disseminated.

"But any attempt to argue for more money is not being helped by people encouraging myths."

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