20 December 2016
Professor Kate Cain features in Academy of Social Sciences campaign

Shadow Schools Minister calls for better use of research to transform education

Research from Professor Kate Cain from the Department of Psychology on improving reading comprehension has been featured in a booklet on education launched by Shadow Minister for Schools Mike Kane MP.  It was showcased before an audience of MPs, policymakers, academics and educators at Portcullis House in London.

“We need a world class, academically rigorous and highly trained teaching profession to transform education,” the Shadow Minister for Schools Mike Kane said.

He was speaking at the launch of “Making the Case for the Social Sciences 12 – Education”, a new publication from the Academy of Social Sciences and its Campaign for Social Science on the ways research has improved education policy and practice.

Professor Cain from the Department of Psychology at Lancaster University said:  “It is great that the teaching of reading comprehension is in the spotlight: decoding is necessary, but not sufficient to develop good readers.”

Mr Kane spoke of the need for data and evidence to inform education policy decisions, as well as the power of social science research to narrow the gap in student attainment, overcome inequality, and raise teaching standards.

The former schoolteacher said that teaching should not be viewed simply as a “craft.”

Rather, more academic evidence was needed on how to produce good teachers and strong school leaders. Greater clarity on the routes into the teaching profession, which at the moment are too numerous, is one way of redressing this disparity.

Neil Carmichael MP, Chair of the House of Commons Education Select Committee, said:

“The stories in ‘Making the Case for the Social Sciences 12 – Education’ demonstrate the vital importance of sound, evidence-based research in policymaking. It shows the crucial role of the social sciences in addressing the educational challenges this country faces, as well as its continued impact in leading to improvements in educational policy and practice.”

The 12 case studies featured in “Making the Case for the Social Sciences 12 – Education” include narrowing the socio-economic gap in educational attainment, improving reading comprehension teaching methods and outcomes, and strategies for increasing higher education participation rates.