What are the Department for Education currently researching about education in our schools?
This document is part of a broader engagement between the research community and sets out areas where the DfE is interested in, and what they are willing to fund …
The Areas of Research Interest (ARI) aims to highlight DfE’s key research priorities. Observing the DfE’s online activities, it has not been updated for six years.
This new document now offers insights into research funding and emerging priorities.
There are five key themes for 2024 …
- Skills development – This area probes into the nation’s future skills requirements.
- Schools – The focus here is on elevating academic standards; attendance etc
- Early years – high-quality early education, childcare, parenting etc
- Support – improving the outcomes for disadvantaged and vulnerable children
- Technology – exploring the potential impacts and applications of AI
- What future skills, especially in STEM and green areas, are needed for growth?
- What challenges and opportunities do HE and FE institutions face?
- How can we boost participation in technical education and apprenticeships?
- What influences UK and international students’ choices in FE and HE?
- What affects teacher recruitment and retention across subjects and regions?
- How can teaching quality be universally enhanced?
- What influences student attendance?
- How can we boost outcomes for disadvantaged and SEND pupils?
- How can schools better utilise their resources?
- How can education adapt to environmental and pandemic challenges?
Early Years and Family Support
- What improves parenting and early home learning environments?
- How can we support child and family development pre-education, including for SEND?
- How can we enhance early years’ provision and workforce quality?
- How can early years’ support address neurodiversity, speech, language, and mental health needs?
- How can we enhance mental and physical health in educational settings?
- How can we better support SEND pupils and those in Alternative Provision?
- What leads to youth violence and which interventions effectively reduce it?
- How can we improve support for families in the social care system and enhance the CSC workforce?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Technology
- What are AI’s impacts in education, and how can we use new tech safely?
- How do we measure and apply digital tech to aid teachers and students?
- What innovations help manage data efficiently in education?
What research questions would you ask?
The above questions are my abbreviated versions of the original 2024 document.
Based on these priorities, it’s worth comparing how education has evolved across English education. You can read my summary of the research questions posed in 2018 to gain some understanding.
I would add the following to the government’s list:
- Why do teachers leave the profession after an OfSTED inspection? (asked in 2018)
- How do we know the current OfSTED framework is applied fairly to all schools? (asked in 2018)
- Why do we not have a legal register for the ~100,000 pupils not registered in schools?
- Why are the ECHP and CAMHS referral services (for the most vulnerable) not working?
The Department for Education say, …
“… given the broad policy agenda of the department, it is not practical to provide an exhaustive list of research questions of interest. Instead this is a targeted list of areas which are both key departmental priorities and where we feel the research community is currently well placed to add to our evidence base.”