Teachers in England will finally be able to dodge hefty paywalls to use education research journals when the Chartered College of Teaching opens to members later this month.
For two years Schools Week has highlighted how teachers in England have been forced to shell out for research journals, despite teachers in Scotland accessing academic journals free.
But now the college, which launches on January 18, is offering similar access as part of its annual membership fee of £39.
The move is likely to be welcomed by the education community. More than 800 teachers signed a petition first set up in 2015 calling for the introduction of a free academic journal scheme in England.
Schools Week revealed last year that a deal, similar to that agreed by the General Teaching Council for Scotland, would cost the government less than the £134,000 salary of then education secretary Nicky Morgan.
Dame Alison Peacock, the college’s chief executive (pictured above), said: “Educational research can sometimes be seen as quite esoteric and separate from the realities of day-to-day teaching.
“We hope the knowledge and research platform we are developing will help to connect the big research ideas to classroom practice and allow our members to share their own insights on what works.”
English teacher Dr Vincent Lien, who set up the petition, said access to research was “fundamental” to teachers and could “empower the teaching profession to improve the quality of education”.
He said the college’s membership offer was “a good thing”, but said its success would hinge on the level of journal access on offer.
Peacock said the deal would provide access to an online research database that included the “widest possible” range of education research journals. Schools Week understands this is similar to the Scottish scheme, which allows access to more than 1,700 journals.
The Department for Education previously said it was keen to support the use of research and evidence in teaching, and highlighted the Education Endowment Foundation for making “great strides in making this more accessible”.
Teachers need support to translate the academic jargon into worthwhile action
However, it refused to create national access arrangements, despite other departments running similar schemes. The NHS, for example, allows its staff to access electronic journals freely.
Alex Quigley, an English teacher and director of Huntington Research School, a research hub for the Yorkshire area, said: “For too long, we have been subject to lousy evidence for policy that has been imposed on teachers. I am all for any proposal that promotes teacher autonomy and critical thinking.”
But he said teachers needed more support to “distil the complexity” of academic journals and to “translate the academic jargon into worthwhile action”.
Glen Gilchrist, science adviser for a consortia of local authorities in south Wales, raised more than £1,500 via a Kickstarter fundraising campaign to set up a peer-led journal, written by teachers for teachers, but has struggled to entice teachers to construct research-based papers.
Five schools were last year given a share of £2.5 million from the Education Endowment Foundation to become education research hubs. They will build support networks to support 1,000 schools t0 make better use of evidence.