The UCL Institute of Education (IoE) has appointed Dr Becky Allen, the current head of Education Datalab, as the director of its new Centre for Education Improvement Science.
Allen, a former reader in economics of education at the IoE, will return after a three-year break, to help develop a “scientific understanding” of education using methods such as laboratory experiments and classroom observation.
The centre’s research will be used to help school leaders, teachers, parents and policymakers improve how schools are run, how teachers are developed and the way children learn.
I hope this new research centre can support school leaders and teachers across the globe in the work they do
Allen said she hopes to build “a firmer scientific basis for education policy and practice”.
“Building on my work at Education Datalab, I hope this new research centre can support school leaders and teachers across the globe in the work they do,” she added.
Her research has focused on the impact of government reforms on school behaviour, particularly on accountability and teacher labour markets, which she will now apply to “improvement science”.
According to the website of Improvement Science London, which is also based at UCL, improvement science involves the recognition of “the gap between what we know and what we put into practice” and using the “practical application of scientific knowledge” to identify what needs to be done differently.
It works to encourage an “evidence-informed approach” to improving services, and is currently focused on the health sector.
Professor Becky Francis, the IoE’s director, said the new centre would create researcher posts and doctoral studentships as it becomes “a cornerstone of the IoE’s work and ambition”.
“New opportunities are opening up through emerging fields of science to build better education systems,” she added. “I want the IoE to be at the forefront of understanding the challenges that education faces and in providing their solutions.”
The Centre for Education Improvement Science will launch in January 2018.