The NFER blog

Evidence for excellence in education

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English Baccalaureate: still much to do..

By Lucy Ellis

In November 2015, the Department for Education (DfE) issued a consultation document on implementing the English Baccalaureate (EBacc). Launched in 2011, the EBacc was introduced by the then coalition government to encourage pupils to study more traditional subjects. It is achieved by studying GCSEs in certain subjects: English, maths, science, history or geography, and a foreign language.  Pupils are required to achieve a good pass in five of these ‘components’ in order to achieve the EBacc. Continue reading

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Putting staff engagement at the heart of school leadership

By David Weston

NFER has shown that engaging staff lies at the heart of retaining them but how do school leaders put that into action? The report suggests that there a number of aspects of staff engagement that are particularly  associated with staff retention, including job satisfaction, having adequate resources, reward and recognition, and being well-supported by management. Continue reading


Is evidence good for absolutely nothing?

By Ben Durbin

“What is evidence good for?  Absolutely nothing!”  This was one of the memorable moments from Campbell Collaboration CEO Howard White’s opening speech at the What Works Global Summit this week (quickly followed by the qualification: “Unless it gets into policy and practice”) Continue reading

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Developing spelling tests: what’s so hard about that?

By Laura Lynn

In 2014, NFER released its year five spelling suite, consisting of a set of three spelling tests and a teacher guide, followed by complementary suites for years three and four in 2015. The development of each suite took at least 12 months. Continue reading

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Executive Headteachers: What’s in a Name?

By Karen Wespieser

The naming of reports can be a tricky affair. Try to be too witty and the meaning becomes obtuse. Try to be too literal and it sounds boring. But the naming of our new report on executive headteachers (EHTs) didn’t suffer from this problem. One of the considerations we faced from day one of the project was understanding the great variety and breadth of the role. There is more than one kind of executive headteacher and the role is still evolving in response to the self-improving school system, so understanding what’s in a name was a pivotal part of the project. Continue reading

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What are we to make of the latest School Workforce statistics?

By Jack Worth

At a time when trainee targets are being missed, retaining the teachers already in the profession becomes all the more important. Teacher retention has been the focus of a programme of NFER research, including our Should I Stay or Should I Go? report last November and forthcoming research examining the experiences and intentions of teachers.

Yesterday’s School Workforce statistics show that the rate of teachers leaving the profession has jumped to the highest level since 2011, with 10 per cent of teachers having left between November 2014 and November 2015. In terms of teacher headcount, the proportion of teachers leaving is the highest since at least 2005. Continue reading

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Despite the headlines, Reception Baseline Assessment continues to get DfE funding in 2016

By Catherine Kirkup

If, like many education professionals, you’ve barely had more than a few moments to skim recent media headlines, you’d be forgiven for believing that the ‘controversial’ baseline assessments have been withdrawn. The reality is, however, that reception baseline assessments have not been scrapped. Continue reading