Using research to promote equity within education systems: possibilities and barriers

Melvin Ainscow, Christopher Chapman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article provides an evaluative account of its authors’ involvement in three major national improvement initiatives. Set in the context of three of the countries that make up the UK, these developments were focused in particular on the promotion of educational equity. Unusually, the analysis provided compares evidence collected from an insider perspective with data generated through independent evaluations. In so doing, it considers how research and researchers can contribute to system change by using research evidence to influence policy‐makers and practitioners at all levels of the system. The article argues that this requires the coming together of different perspectives in a process of social learning and knowledge creation within particular settings. This means that researchers have to overcome a number of barriers related to social, cultural and political factors. They therefore have to develop skills in creating collaborative partnerships that span boundaries between actors who have different types of professional experience. It is argued that researchers also need to mobilise support in dealing with the pressures that this involves. The article concludes with the presentation of a strategic framework that can be used to think about how school systems can be helped to make better use of research knowledge.
Original languageEnglish
Article number
Pages (from-to)899
Number of pages917
JournalBritish Educational Research Journal
Issue number3
Early online date25 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019


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