New education think tank launched in UK

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A think tank that helped shape Liberal Democrat policies in the run-up to the 2010 UK General Election has relaunched itself with a greater focus on education and children’s mental health

CentreForum, which helped develop the keystone policy of the ‘pupil premium’, relaunched last week as the Education Policy Institute (EPI).

In 2015 CentreForum underwent a ‘rigorous reorganisation’ in the wake of the General Election when many Liberal Democrat MPs lost their seats. CEO, Professor Stephen Lee, left the organisation and former schools minister David Laws joined as its Executive Chairman.

In an article on EPI’s website Laws and Executive Director of Research Natalie Perera argue that despite the transformative potential of education, ‘Too many children – particularly from disadvantaged backgrounds – fail to receive the high quality education which they need to make the most of their lives. The evidence for this was demonstrated in our recent Annual Report on Education in England.’

They add:

Good quality education promotes opportunity for all citizens, helps promote economic productivity, and ensures that individuals can realise their full potential. Identifying and promoting good education policy is therefore crucial. But the policy debate is often occupied by contradictory views, which can be based on personal experience and political instinct rather than on robust evidence. There is an urgent need for objective, impartial and independent research that can influence and inform the education debate; research that is rigorous and grounded in evidence, and can also directly inform and shape the policy debate and public policy.

EPI says it will help fill this space:

Our data-driven research and analysis will shed light on whether current policy is delivering a high quality, equitable, education system, and will highlight issues where further policy development is needed. Through research and analysis, we will hold government and education providers to account for their performance, and help identify the key policies which can improve educational outcomes for all.

EPI’s Board of Trustees has also been strengthened in recent months with the addition of Sir Theodore Agnew, Sir Kevan Collins and Baroness Sally Morgan. Agnew previously served as a non-executive board member at the Department for Education, where he was chair of the department’s Academies Board from 2013 to 2015.

Collins became the first Chief Executive of the Education Endowment Foundation in October 2011, having previously been Chief Executive in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. Morgan is Chair of Future Leaders, a UK charity training potential head teachers for challenging schools, serves as Advisor to the Board of the children’s charity Absolute Return for Kids (ARK) and was Chair of Ofsted from 2011 to 2014.

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