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Evidence for excellence in education


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Time for reform of the apprenticeship levy?

By Maire Williams and Jens Van den Brande

The role of apprenticeships in improving the lives of young learners is high on the government’s agenda and in the wider policy world. Given this, the apprenticeship levy has received much attention and criticism since its inception. In fact, the Department for Education (DfE) is already having to handle calls for its reform. A year on from the levy being introduced, we delved into the latest statistics on apprenticeship starts from the DfE to see what kind of impact the policy is having.  Continue reading


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Globalisation – Is it shaping national curricula?

By Oliver Stacey

Globalisation is usually observed from an economic perspective but has impact in many areas of life – and education and school curricula are not immune from the forces and impact of this international phenomenon. Perhaps the most obvious example of this in education is the influence of large-scale international surveys such as TIMSS (Trends in International, Mathematics and Science and Study) and PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) that have facilitated the evaluation and comparison of different educational systems. Continue reading


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My six top tips for a role in Digital Communications

By Alex Blakey

As part of National Careers Week 2018, Web Communications Executive Alexander Blakey offers his advice on how to start a career in the digital industry. Continue reading


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“There’s no doubting that careers advice has improved since my day but there’s so much more that can and must be done”

By Carole Willis

As National Careers Week gets underway, NFER’s Chief Executive, Carole Willis, talks about the careers education, information, advice and guidance (CEIAG) she received at school and gives her opinion on how things have changed. Her verdict? Things are better but still far from good enough. Continue reading


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My journey so far as an NFER apprentice

By Amirah Khan

For National Apprenticeship Week, Amirah Khan shares her experience on what it’s like being an NFER Business Administration Apprentice.  Continue reading


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Vocational studies and T-Levels: what will be different this time around?

By Claudia Sumner

As the issue of skills rises up the educational agenda and the number of 18-year-olds going to university falls, the Government is driving through one of the biggest shake-ups in the English qualifications system for years. The introduction of new ‘T levels’ is designed to help tackle Britain’s productivity challenge and to raise the profile of technical education. They will also replace the plethora of vocational qualifications currently on offer in each technical area with just one recognisable qualification type.  Continue reading


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Spotlight on multi-academy trusts: A glimpse into performance

By Jens Van den Brande

In recent weeks, NFER has shone a spotlight on multi-academy trusts (MATs) through our blog series examining what we know about the position of MATs in the education landscape. This time last week, NFER’s Karen Wespieser highlighted that despite the Department for Education (DfE) releasing their latest statistics on MAT performance measures on 25 January, we are still yet to know how MATs are performing in terms of improving pupil outcomes.  In this final blog in the series, we delve further into this issue.  Continue reading


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NFER Vice President David Whitbread dies after long and distinguished career in education

NFER news release (29/01/18)

We were very sad to hear the news last week of the sudden passing of NFER Vice President David Whitbread.

A well-known and highly respected figure in education, David maintained his interest and enthusiasm for the sector following his retirement in 1998. David was a strong supporter of NFER for many years whilst working for the Local Government Associations, and served as Treasurer and Vice Chair on our Board.  He was appointed Vice President of NFER in 2012. He always gave his time generously, and we are extremely grateful for his sage advice and tireless support. Continue reading


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Spotlight on multi-academy trusts: what is happening to performance?

By Karen Wespieser 

Over the course of the past week, we have been sharing what the research tells us so far about Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs). We started by looking at pupil outcomes, and then moved on to teachers and schools. Today though, is a big day in terms of moving forward the evidence base on MATs’ performance. At 0930 hours this morning, the Department for Education (DfE) released ‘Multi-academy trust performance measures: 2016 to 2017’, the department’s own statistics on the performance of state-funded schools in multi-academy trusts in England. So what does this add to our story?  Continue reading


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In times of austerity and budget cuts, it’s important to identify where money can do the most good in schools

By Maire Williams

On Tuesday 16 January, Westminster Education Forum held an event to discuss the hot topic of school funding. The day consisted of a mix of presentations from teachers, researchers and policy professionals, including a keynote speech by Tony Foot, Director of the Education Funding group at DfE. One of the clear messages coming out of the event was the high level of concern around current budgets, something teachers and governors reported as already being stretched far too thin.

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