An Investigation into Schools and Research Part 1: Is there room for critical thinking about research claims in the school curriculum?

By Liverpool YPAG,

Part 1: How could teaching about research be covered in the school curriculum?

During my time as a YPAG member in the London YPAG, I have become very interested in research and the views and opinions of it in the public eye. I often had friends from school assume that research with children and young people was bad, but often couldn’t explain why they thought that. I realised that there was a distinct lack of education on research in schools, which is essential for people to develop an opinion on anything. I wanted to see which methods may be best utilised at schools to teach research.


I spent my spare time thinking about the reasons to why schools don’t teach about research, I created a few points that seem to pop up when I discuss this with people, such as researchers, parents and friends. The common reasons for research not being taught seem to be: the curriculum doesn’t include it or if it does it is the smallest of sections. In addition, once they are at the age when they are examined for GCSE’s and A-levels students are more focused on learning only what is essential for their grades. The last reason is that teachers aren’t aware of research as a learning topic.


Once I had identified these reasons, I had thought about the school subject that might teach research methods. Sciences are taught in both Primary and Secondary schools, but Critical Thinking and Psychology are only taught from A-level. And even then, Critical Thinking isn’t compulsory and is dismissed as an irrelevant subject. Then I realised that there is one compulsory lesson that is taught is Primary and Secondary education, Personal Development, or PSHE (in primary schools), this is where life-skills are taught to prepare a child or young person for when they reach adulthood. I spoke to teachers asking about the curriculum for Personal Development, and it seemed that there is only a guide to what is taught and teachers struggled to find subjects that can fill each lesson. In Part 2 of this blog, I’ll describe what I did next.