Design of the times: Measuring interactivity, expert judgement and pupil development in the Early Professional Learning project
The methodological design of the EPL project was conceived in 2003, at a time when the government funding of educational research was thought to have reached a critical stage. The view of those close to the purse strings seemed to be that educational research was becoming increasingly irrelevant to policy development. The then Secretary of State for Education and Employment had only recently challenged the ability of social science to improve government or face becoming ‘ever more detached and irrelevant to the real debates which affect people’s life chances’ (Hammersley 2002: 7). Consequently, in a political climate of best value for money, the allocation of funding for research tended to be accompanied by criteria that required, for example, engagement with users, measured impact and knowledge transformation. The widespread impression was that funding was accompanied by an implicit ultimatum to make a positive impact on policy. Educational researchers, it was said, were drinking at the last chance saloon (McNally et al. 2004).