2 thoughts on “Engaging with policymakers – some tips to help you on your journey…

  1. Rob, I can only admire your optimism about the likely effectiveness of good research evidence affecting public policy. After a career in both educational management, policy-making and research, I’m afraid that I now see policy becoming increasingly post-truth, largely immune to the effects of evidence. The current grammar school debate (if you can call it that) is an obvious case in point, on which our former Director has blogged authoritatively, where an issue that was settled in research terms in the 1960s has (like one of the undead in a cheap horror movie) emerged from its political grave on the basis of zero supporting research but lots of “Well, I know someone who…” anecdotes. The current marketisation proposals in the new higher education legislation make no sense in economic theory, educational practice, or national priorities (are indeed contradictory) but, again, even the Financial Times has been unable to make headway against post-truth certainties. To show this isn’t just an education problem, the response of government to the recent detailed study of the traffic and economic benefits of new roads (summary: there aren’t any) has been, in effect, to puts its fingers in its ears while chanting “la, la, la, la-la, can’t hear you!”

    What is common in all these cases (and I could go on) is, as with the Brexit “debate”, that the government no longer feels the need to say, “I appreciate what you’re saying, but this is why you’re wrong: your interpretation of the data is flawed in respect of X; you haven’t considered the effects of Y; you’re not taking account of the reactions of Z…etc.” I don’t think it’s a golden age-type argument to say that, once upon a time, government policy-makers felt they had to try to counter well-founded critiques of policy proposals: now, I fear, they don’t.

    Paul

    Like

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