The English White Paper, The Importance of Teaching, was discussed at the February 2011 meeting of the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers (UCET Research and Development Committee. It seemed possible that proposed changes in initial teacher education (ITE) and the continuing professional development (CPD) of teachers might threaten the viability of education departments in English higher education institutions (HEIs). The discussion broadened to cover a range of factors indicating that this may be a particularly critical time for the development of education research in the UK. An approach was therefore made to British Educational Research Association (BERA), and the two organisations agreed to establish a joint working group to investigate and report on the current state of education research and possible future scenarios. This paper reports on the initial work carried out by the joint working group.