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Innovation and change within education

Tymms, Peter; Bolden, David



David D. Preiss

Marcos Singer

James C. Kaufman


‘The only constant in life is change’ (Heraclitus) and so it is with education. Children change due to maturation, culture, home and teaching. In addition, the education systems within which children find themselves also change; the systems evolve and they alter more rapidly the lower they are in the nested hierarchical structure of education. We show that the greatest effective innovation in education happens within classrooms between teachers and pupils and, as we aggregate up to the school level, the district level and the country level the innovations have barely detectable impacts on pupils’ progress. In other words, there is very little evidence that national policies have impact-ed on attainment levels at the country level. Further, randomised controlled trials lose their effectiveness as they are scaled up. Nevertheless, we, as researchers, have made major advances, but those have been methodological rather than substantive. We have further failed to theorise the educational system well enough to predict the impact of interventions. As a result, we live in a kind of education smog where monitoring data and advice from colleagues in similar situations are the safest option. We finally set out what is needed now from policy-makers and researchers to enhance education.


Tymms, P., & Bolden, D. (in press). Innovation and change within education. In D. D. Preiss, M. Singer, & J. C. Kaufman (Eds.), Creativity, Innovation, and Change Across Cultures. (1). Palgrave Macmillan

Acceptance Date Jul 22, 2022
Online Publication Date Sep 8, 2023
Deposit Date Jul 3, 2023
Publicly Available Date Sep 9, 2025
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan
Series Title Palgrave Studies in Creativity and Culture (PASCC)
Edition 1
Book Title Creativity, Innovation, and Change Across Cultures
Public URL
Publisher URL


This file is under embargo until Sep 9, 2025 due to copyright restrictions.

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