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EPPI-Centre public lectures in association with the What Works Global Summit

The EPPI-Centre, at the UCL Institute of Education, was proud to be a sponsor of the What Works Global Summit 2016 and to have hosted the following two public lectures (both available as video podcasts).


The rise of experimental government

David Halpern, Chief Executive Behavioural Insights Team, and What Works National Advisor, UK

Chair: Peter John, Professor of Political Science and Public Policy, UCL, London
Details: 5.30-7pm, Monday 26 September, Logan Hall, UCL Institute of Education

The UK now has seven ‘What Works’ centres dedicated to the collation and spreading of evidence across health, education, early years, crime reduction, local growth, aging and well-being – and with more on the way. These centres are the most visible part of a wider program, or movement, to make policy and practice more evidence-based. Other elements include: a training program to ensure all future policymakers understand trials and related methods; a trial advisory panel of 25 academics and 15 government; and massive expansion in the use of experimental methods in policy and practice – examples to be shown. Similar developments are occurring in other countries, and in particular the use of rapid trials utilising administrative data. A key challenge is to build on these developments, and to create a stronger, more accessible, form of what works knowledge available as a public good to all.

Disciplined innovation: Harnessing evidence to support and inform improved pupil outcomes

Sir Kevan Collins, CEO Education Endowment Foundation

Chair: Becky Francis, Director UCL IOE
Details: 6pm-7.30pm Tuesday 27 September, Logan Hall, UCL Institute of Education

This presentation considers the apparent rise of evidence-informed policy and practice in education. I suggest that there has been an increase in the supply and quality of useful evidence and in particular well designed large quasi experimental studies. With reference to examples I set out how the approach has engaged the English system and engaged schools in new relationships with the academic community to capture and evaluate innovation, test existing practices and encourage professional collaboration. In the presentation I  argue that this change can be explained by a range of factors including the failure of other reforms to deliver improvement and a move towards increased school-autonomy in many policies. However, I argue that the move towards evidence should not be viewed as irreversible and that it is not guaranteed to improve pupil outcomes. Rather, the response of school leaders to evidence will determine its impact. I present two alternative models of evidence-use in schools. In ‘evidence for accountability’ leaders primarily use the language of evidence to justify decisions. In ‘evidence for improvement’, evidence plays a central role at all stages of the decision-making process.

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