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Annual Report 2013

The Research and Information on State Education Trust was set up to assist public understanding of education issues by maintaining an educational information service and to promote and encourage research. The Trust is administered by its Trustees and a correspondent, who is not a Trustee.

Trustees for the period 1 January – 31 December 2013:
Hilary Chamberlain, Ada Fordham, David Gordon, Professor Ron Glatter (resigned November 2013), Alan Gurbutt, Melian Mansfield, Nick Peacey (appointed November 2013), Joan Sallis, Margaret Tulloch, Liz Williams.

Correspondent: Libby Goldby.
In 2013 Trustees met formally five times and informally on several occasions to plan projects and implement activities.

RISE’s remit is education in the publicly maintained sector in the UK, particularly at school level. It works to encourage reference to research evidence in public debate on policy issues. RISE focuses particularly on issues that are of interest to parents and young people, and seeks to involve non-professional stakeholders in discussions with academics.

RISE seeks to achieve its aims by:
• Providing easy access to information and analysis, including government data, and research on education issues, through its web-based Information Centre.
• Commissioning independent research from academics and publishing the reports on its web site.
• Commissioning and publishing reviews that bring together findings from recent research into particular issues.
• Disseminating the research findings and promoting the Information Centre to interested parties, including decision-makers and opinion-formers at local and national level, researchers, practitioners, parents and young people. This is done through the media and seminars organised by RISE and other bodies.

In the past year, RISE has produced its fourth Research Review: School Performance: the effect of intake and other external factors on school performance, by Will Cook, lecturer at the University of Manchester and Associate Fellow of the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR). Published in September, the Review was widely publicised to the media. This and previous Reviews are available on RISE’s web site: www.risetrust.org.uk/online-publications

In a major step forward this year, RISE organised a seminar on school governance, an issue affecting schools that has been much scrutinised recently, including by the Parliamentary Select Committee on Education. The seminar was held in memory of Maurice Plaskow, chair of RISE for many years, who sadly passed away in 2012.

Entitled School Governance – what we know now and what will the future hold? the seminar was designed to bring together academics and practitioners at a time of great change in the structure and organisation of schools. Distinguished speakers and discussion panel members all gave their time free and significant opportunities were provided for the invited participants (46 in total) to contribute to discussions. Speakers included Professor Chris James (Bath University), Siobhain McDonagh MP (Education Select Committee), Fiona Carnie (Education Consultant), Brian Lightman (Association of School and College Leaders). Bridget Sinclair (National Coordinators of Governor Services), Christine Gilbert (former Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector), Emma Knights (Chief Executive, National Governors’ Association) and David Wolfe (Matrix Chambers).

Feedback from participants has been very positive and Trustees felt the event achieved its joint aims of publicising research findings, promoting debate between academics and users, and raising RISE’s profile. A report on the seminar and the major themes for discussion are available on the web site www.risetrust.org.uk/seminar_report

RISE’s On-line Information Centre www.riseinformationcentre.org.uk has continued to develop, supported by several admirable volunteers. Mary Andrews leads the team with the able assistance of Ian Helm. They have now been joined by Martin Johnson, who brings valuable experience from his teaching and union work. The Centre provides:
• A wide range of links to on-line data and material from official sources.
• Links to web sites covering research and other information on state education.

The links are categorised into topics, such as admissions and special educational needs.
Each topic has a Commentary and includes:
• Parliamentary Answers
• DfE Statistical First Releases
• DfE Press Releases
• Key Reports
• Relevant web sites

A key feature of the Centre is that it is regularly updated as new material and data appears and new items are highlighted on RISE’s Home Page. Use of the site is growing, with the most-visited pages being RISE’s major research projects on school admissions, published some years ago.

RISE continues to run on a shoestring, its core costs in 2013 totalling less than £2,000. Project costs, the major element in our expenditure, this year covered Research Review 4, the seminar and continuing development work on the web site. Day-to-day work on the Information Centre and general administration was provided by volunteers and the Trustees. No staff are employed by the charity.

This does not mean that outside funding is not needed, however. Trustees have been extremely grateful to a number of organisations that have provided sponsorship for Reviews and the seminar, including the publishers SAGE, and the teacher organisations ATL, NUT and ASCL. Funding from the Eleanor Rathbone Trust continued to be used for development work and generous donations were received in memory of Maurice Plaskow. Despite this support, our reserves are now at a very low level and urgent work is needed to find support for core costs as well as to continue the project work. Without further support our current funds are realistically sufficient for only one more year’s activity. Building our income will be a major preoccupation in 2014.

As well as fundraising efforts, Trustees are determined to maintain and develop current activities. Our new Trustee, Nick Peacey, is preparing a fifth Review on the research literature covering special educational needs and disability education, in the context of current legislative changes. We plan an event in the summer to launch the Review as well as to raise RISE’s profile with interested parties and potential funders. Sponsorship is now being sought for a further Review to cover research on school admissions. Work on maintaining and developing the Information Centre will continue and a major promotional effort is being prepared to bring the Centre to the attention of a wider audience.

The Trustees were sorry that Ron Glatter was forced by pressure of work to resign from the board during the year and wish to acknowledge the great contribution he made to RISE’s activities during his many years as a Trustee, including his chairing of the Trustees over the past year. They are pleased to welcome Nick Peacey to the board, a very welcome addition in view of his experience from his work at the Institute of Education, University of London.

RISE is registered by the Charity Commission (No. 283726) and constituted by a trust deed dated 25 August 1981. It was dormant for a while in its early years and began to be active again in 1994.