Scottish government educational research policy. Co-opting school-based research and deskilling teachers

FORUM - ISSN 0963-8253
Volume 65 Number 1 (2023)

Scottish government educational research policy. Co-opting school-based research and deskilling teachers
Chris Holligan pages 40-54


A common idea of research lies in association with virtues of open-mindedness, pursuit of truth and the liberation of humanity from burdens of prejudice. Aside from this blue skies picture of scientific research we have practitioner research designed by teachers to improve the quality of the education they provide in classrooms. And third, there is policy research by government, which is designed to monitor and implement political values into schools and classrooms under its aegis.

This article explores the educational research policy which the Scottish Government has recently published. It argues that its approach to education policy research will weaken the professional standing and autonomy of teachers. That policy agenda will result in the proletarianisation of classroom educators. A dimension of this government’s policy shifts research out of education into the hands of quasi-private companies. The outsourcing of research contracts to companies illustrates ideological values. Besides the government’s general policy orientation to education research, its subcontracting model reinforces the assumption that valid and reliable research on education does not require the nuanced expertise of classroom practitioners. The government’s politics also disfavour university education researchers. The outcome of marginalising these two elements of the education world ensures evidence-informed policymaking incorporates neoliberal values. Research companies operate in the capitalist free market and, to survive, must satisfy their customers. Management of schooling by means of abstract scientific data that monitors and judges teacher performance is an international norm. That destructive, ideologically driven trend undermines the local expertise of schools and reduces the autonomy of schoolteachers who are employed in schools. The policy culture so described, it is concluded, will re-model the profession, recast what counts as professionalism and in this process trash the accumulated wisdom of generations of committed and caring teachers. 

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To cite this article
Chris Holligan (2023) Scottish government educational research policy. Co-opting school-based research and deskilling teachers, FORUM, 65(1), 40-54

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