Reaction and evidence- the blight for education and much else

Individual human beings tend to organise their lives around evidence driven decision making. We base decisions on the impact evidence we have accrued over our lifetimes; cause and effect, the great lessons of learning by doing. Important decisions cause us to take stock and mull over everything we know, as well as the collected wisdom of others who we might consult. Career moves, big purchase decisions, how we treat other people, the management of our health – all informed by what we know about the impact of previous activity.

This process also relies upon being able to see the wood from the trees. Sometimes we plod on without realising the truth staring us in the face. One current example concerns hospitals. Why are the ambulances stacking up outside casualty units? Not enough staff inside the hospital and  too many ‘casualties’ are the obvious answers. If we can reduce the number of ‘casualties’ we could solve the problem. We need to find ways of helping  people access  local medical care, in particular, the burgeoning population of the elderly who clog up the system because there is nowhere else for them to go.  More local ‘hospitals’ for the majority who do not need the main hospital’s specialist care, is surely one solution.

Education does not always afford such accessible, observable evidence. However, there is some. One clear piece of impact evidence that we do have is the known cost of making changes to schools and curricula in terms of money and time. Another is the current decline in the numbers of those who want to train as teachers or even take up posts as headteachers.

In this case, it is not ambulances stacking up, it is teachers leaving the building. In both cases, surely such major impacts cry out to be the places where we need to look for answers?In this time of great challenge for all of our public services and the welfare state, surely the facts should overpower the prejudices? If that doesnt suit certain newspapers, it should certainly be the duty of the politicians.


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