Bid to boost learning quality

15 September 2016

school

Ambitious long-term research that seeks to improve the quality of learning in schools in Wales is being supported by Cardiff University.

The study of pupils in schools across Wales will benefit from a £215,000 grant to develop important work that started in 2012.

The research will be carried out by the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research, Data & Methods (WISERD), which comprises Cardiff, Aberystwyth, Bangor, South Wales and Swansea universities.

The data gathered will provide valuable information for academic researchers, policy makers and teachers.

Professor Sally Power, Co-Director, WISERD, said: “We know that there is a serious lack of research capacity in the field of education in Wales, which is particularly problematic given that this is one of the key areas of social policy that has been devolved to Wales.

“We want to make anonymised data available for access to all those interested in education, childhood and devolution.

“The data will help inform not only researchers, but also government policy makers and teaching practitioners, as we all strive to contribute towards improvements in teaching and learning in Wales.

“We hope the research will help inform decision making in education in Wales, which could lead to major benefits for our pupils and schools.”

The funding from Cardiff University follows a £1m grant in 2012 from the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) to increase Wales’ capacity to carry out high-quality educational research and to improve the quality of learning in Wales.

More than 1,200 pupils in over 30 schools around Wales have so far taken part in the research, known as the WISERDEducation Multi-Cohort Study (WMCS).

WMCS is a longitudinal study which means that it tracks a sample of pupils at different points in time. There have so far been four annual waves of data collection from four cohorts with pupils aged eight, 10, 12 and 14 years.

Dr David Blaney, Chief Executive of HEFCW, said:  “We are proud of our long-standing support for excellent educational research.

“Building the capacity to carry out educational research that will inform future policies and successes in schools is important for the nation and for future generations, and underlines WISERDEducation’s commitment to improving learning and standards.

“This major study continues the work that we funded from 2012, and we will be excited to learn about the outcomes and impact of the future work.”

The research asks children and young people about their experiences and perceptions as they progress through their education. They are asked how they feel about their schools, about themselves, about their neighbourhoods and about living in Wales.

The latest grant from Cardiff University will enable WISERD researchers to continue and build upon their work.

“This grants shows that Cardiff University is at the forefront in recognising that investment in this type of data is a core requirement of a nation’s capability for research,” added Professor Power.

“It will enable us to carry out three further sweeps of data collection from schools and pupils across Wales and to establish an accessible and shared data-lab for other education researchers.”

Professor Hywel Thomas, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research, Innovation & Engagement at Cardiff University, said: “Cardiff University is committed to continually improving its research environment.

“We look to invest in projects which can serve the needs of a significant number of researchers, will attract further external research funding and are likely to generate high quality outputs, impacts and public benefit.

“We are delighted to support the project led by Sally and Chris of WISERD as it undoubtedly meets those stringent criteria.”

Education Secretary Kirsty Williams said: “I welcome this announcement. Capturing the views of children and young people is important to help us develop policies and services in Wales that meet their needs.

“As adults we can sometimes assume we know what children and young people think but it is only when you undertake well-designed research that you find out properly.”

The Welsh Government is keen to establish and develop a strong research base to contribute towards the development and implementation of policies to improve education in Wales.

Ms Williams said in a recent keynote speech at Cardiff University that she wanted more research on education in Wales to help inform her decision making.

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