Instinct or reason: how education policy is made and how we might make it better

Adrian Perry

Christian Amadeo

Mick Fletcher

Elizabeth Walker

This report investigates the factors that lie behind the formation of educational policy.

  1. It is based on discussions with an expert group, a desk-based literature review (including academic research and politicians’ memoirs), interviews with stakeholders and an extended process of draft revision. The study looked at policy changes across a range of policy areas to help give a representative view.
  2. The connection of policy to evidence is an area of increasing importance and interest. Perceptions of a disconnection are widely shared and were confirmed by our interviews and reading, despite the work of respected institutions aiming to bring research and practice closer together.
  3. The report looks at and evaluates a number of possible drivers for policy. These include:
  • Urgency: a sense that ‘something must be done’
  • Ideology – the values and beliefs of policy makers
  • International exemplars
  • Cost
  • Electoral popularity
  • Pressure groups
  • Personal experience
  • Research evidence