Tony Blair has questioned the quality of research available to education policy makers.
Speaking at the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai, the former prime minister questioned the evidence available to politicians when they make education policy decisions.
Responding to a question from Tom Bennett, education columnist and ResearchEd director, he said: “We do need really good quality research from outside of government. I found there wasn’t much of it around.
“One of the things that really interests me about modern policy making is how it compares to the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s when our systems were growing up, when there was an intense amount of academic work and research that could translate itself into government policies.”
Mr Blair went on: “There are examples of good work going on. But politicians will only use it if it’s practical. Too much of the ‘thinktankery’ didn’t allow me to write my next education bill.
“Policy making is a very important intellectual business and it needs to be evidence based,” he added. “And I would love it if there was more good quality research coming out of institutions who help policy making become better and more accurate.”
Mr Blair also questioned the current enthusiasm for global targets for education. “I’m going to sound heretical about the Millennium Development Goals. We would do more if we could share best practice around the world. We must be careful to become too aspirational.”
The former Labour leader was quizzed on a rage of issues, including his thoughts on faith schools, which he felt worked best when the schools were fully integrated into society.
Mr Blair stopped short of naming what types of schools he was referring to but stated that faith schools had to teach about a wide range of different religions, and not just their own if they were to function properly in an education system.
Tony Blair calls for G8 summit to improve global education – 19 March 2014
Almost 60 million primary-age children still not in school – 19 January 2015