Preface and acknowledgements
This publication has its own history. The idea for a ‘review of reviews’ – an attempt to summarise and distil the policy implications of available sectoral reviews – was formed early in TLRP’s development. The concept was inspired by the National Commission on Education which, under the leadership of Sir Claus Moser and funding from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, had consulted widely, gathered evidence and produced a report: Learning to Succeed (1993). As an unusually large, medium-term investment in educational research, TLRP was able to contemplate emulating this precedent - though ultimately the Programme’s funding model could not stretch to a project on that scale. What we have here then, is a more pragmatic harvesting of available sectoral reviews which, together, provide evidence on most major sectors of education in England.
The work is one product from a TLRP Programme Fellowship, held by Andrew Pollard during 2009/10, and we are grateful to ESRC for funding his contribution. This was supplemented by an award from the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation to the Institute of Education, University of London, which enabled Richard Pring to work on the project. Richard has led in the drafting of this text and much of his voice and experience comes through.
We are grateful to colleagues who led the sectoral reviews and initiatives on which we have drawn. In particular, we acknowledge the advice provided by Robin Alexander (Director, Cambridge Primary Review), Alan Brown, Miriam David and Mary James (Directors’ Team, TLRP), Tom Schuller (Director, Inquiry into the Future of Lifelong Learning) and John Vorhaus (Director, Center for the Wider Benefits of Learning). Their achievements are considerable and their publications speak for themselves. Hilary Hodgson of the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation has also been a particular source of support and James O’Toole of TLRP has provided administration at several key points with his admirable efficiency and goodwill.
However, the present report is our responsibility and is not that of the authors of the Review documents on which we have drawn or of colleagues who have provided support. Others should not be held responsible for any errors of interpretation which we may have made, or arguments which we have developed.
Based on evidence from selected sources, our goal has been to highlight enduring issues and challenges which face policy-makers in contemplating education in England and to suggest principles which might inform future decision-making. We have had in mind the reality of rapidly changing Ministerial responsibilities, with a typical term of office since 1945 being well under two years. How then, can an incoming Minister ‘get up to speed’ on the issues which he or she will face? Additionally, how can an incoming Minister ensure that the decisions he or she takes will enable authentic and constructive development of educational provision, with an appropriate balance of continuity and change?
The initiative reported here was thus intended to be supportive of policy-makers by distilling a selection of available evidence and re-presenting it in a form which could helpfully inform future decision-making. A shorter version is also being produced (Pollard and Pring, 2011) and we anticipate that these texts will also be available on the TLRP website (www.tlrp.org).
Andrew Pollard and Richard Pring, February 2011