|Home > Policy > Peer reviews > Policy, peers and practice: Peer review as a tool for policy development|
As detailed in Section 1 of the report, teams from Finland, France and Northern Ireland each offered an ongoing policy innovation in their country for detailed review by teams for their two partners’ countries. Thus, the same teams were responsible for presenting one policy innovation and acting as peer reviewers in two others. The author of this report acted as a participant observer in all meetings and was given access to all relevant and supporting documentation in order to gather intelligence for the report. Additional information came from brief commentaries written by each review team after the site visits. These commentaries also formed the basis for questions addressed to each presenting team concerning their reflections on the perspectives and evaluations that had been offered by their peers, as well as an assessment of impact of P2P on themselves and their colleagues.
Section 2 of the report explains a system that was developed out of the project to support the analysis and evaluation of the main motivations for, and constraints on, policy transfer. It opens up a consideration of two principal themes that permeate the report – the need to adopt a systemic approach to policy presentation/policy transfer and the need to identify and evaluate the impact of cultural differences on the chances of successful transfer. Section 2 also identifies three challenges facing each of the policy innovations – selling a vision, scaling up existing innovations and sustaining over time any systemic changes brought about by innovation. These themes and challenges, coupled with the system of analysis, lay the foundations for the rest of the report. Section 2 also looks in some detail at what emerged from meetings at each site visit. In Northern Ireland, the main focus was on major innovations in curricula; in France, innovations designed to scale up pedagogical innovation in classrooms provided the policy focus whilst, in Finland, the initial topic was innovations designed to enhance the supply of high quality digital content and tools into schools. The presentations of the three peer reviews explore and illustrate the power of the analysis offered and flesh out in some detail ways in which each team adopted a systemic approach to their presentation. Section 2 also outlines some of the project-specific areas in which promising innovations were identified, considered and either rejected or acted upon.
Section 3 integrates the findings from P2P with previously funded, EUN programmes that started with the THINK project undertaken as part of ValNet. In that project, axes of tension were identified that, it was claimed, will permeate attempts at innovations with and through ICT. Section 3 assesses the utility of this claim and explores how the same tensions may be used to re-present many of the main findings from the P2P sessions, exploring the idea that policy transfer is affected by the extent to which the three national educational systems occupy different poles on the proposed axes of tension.
Finally, Section 4 returns to the main issues addressed in the project – what do peers learn in the context of peer review? How do they evaluate what they are shown and told? Do they consider policy ideas for transfer and, if so, what actions do they take? It overviews briefly the implications of the findings of P2P for these questions and also offers recommendations as to how and why the P2P approach should be extended, developed and exploited.
A summary of the theoretical ideas that inspired the design and analysis of the peer review process and its impact are included in Appendix 1.
Last changed: Tuesday, 25 April 2006