Education policy has huge consequences across generations, yet policymaking is a complex and badly understood process. How can the public better understand policy making? What factors come into play when making policy decisions?
On 2 March 2023, The HEAD Foundation Dialogues welcomed Mr Loic Menzies, Senior Research Associate at Jesus College Cambridge and Visiting Fellow at Sheffield Institute of Education, who spoke on “How Policy Happens: Opening up the ‘black box’ of education policymaking”.
Mr Menzies shared that policymaking is caught between the tension of continuity and responsiveness, and is dependent on various factors and actors. Citing the example of the United Kingdom, Mr Menzies highlighted that despite the changing hands of political power, actual changes in policy have historically been largely incremental.
Besides those in power, it is also important to consider who might know best and how much influence they should have in policy design. While it is ideal to have stakeholders such as parents, teachers and students be part of this process, the sheer number of parties to consider could mean conflicting interests. Balancing these interest is key to good policy.
Evidence-based decisions would then appear ideal. However, this can realistically only inform or help operationalise values-based policies. What seems to truly make the difference are the issues of the day that the population cares about. In this sense, shaping the zeitgeist and framing narratives can move the needle when it comes to reform.
Disclaimer: The views expressed by the speakers in this webinar are their own and do not represent the opinions of The HEAD Foundation.