Our goal is to find ways to improve educational outcomes through policy change and interventions that are grounded in robust evidence.
We fund research and development projects relating to education across all life stages – from early years through school, to further and higher education and vocational learning. We want to understand young people’s pathways as they move through these stages, and how they acquire skills and capabilities.
Many young people are disadvantaged in the education system, by factors such as special educational needs, disability, socio-economic background and location. Through the research we fund, we help to understand and address these disadvantages. We also aim to improve the quality of teaching and learning, and to understand and support teachers.
We recognise that education is not just what happens in the classroom – we also want to understand the wider influences on people’s education and chances in life, such as the role of families and informal learning.
Why education needs research
By the end of primary school, children from low-income families are 9.4 months behind on average – a gap that grows to 18.4 months by the time they leave secondary education. Our research helps identify ways this gap can be reduced.
An estimated extra 47,000 secondary and 8,000 primary teachers will be needed by 2024, just to maintain current pupil: teacher ratios. On average that’s an additional 11 teachers needed in every secondary school. Our research helps understand the challenges for recruiting and retaining teachers and how they might be better supported.
The number of pupils with special educational needs (SEN) has increased for a third consecutive year to 1,318,300 in January 2019, representing 14.9% of the total pupil population. We need research to understand the educational needs of this population and the most effective ways to meet them.
What do we fund in education?
We are currently funding research, development and analysis projects, with a focus on:
- Skills and capabilities that equip children and young people for life and work, both within and beyond educational institutions.
- Teaching quality, particularly projects that improve practice through evidence-based interventions and those that harness digital technologies to improve teaching, learning, parental engagement and child development.
- Young people’s pathways, with an increased focus on young people following non-HE routes.
- Educational disadvantage, including special educational needs, physical disabilities, mental health issues, socio-economic disadvantage, geographical disadvantage and looked after children.
- Direct interventions that improve young people’s lives and align with the four priorities identified above and which are grounded in evidence.