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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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Spotlight on multi-academy trusts: Teachers and schools

By Karen Wespieser

Last week, in the first part of our blog series on multi-academy trusts (MATs), we looked at what pupil performance data could tell us about MATs and found rather inconclusive evidence. In this blog post, we will look at three areas where there is a growing evidence base about MATs; teacher career paths, collaboration and financial efficiencies. Continue reading


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Spotlight on multi-academy trusts: Pupil outcomes

By Karen Wespieser

Just before Christmas, I was invited to present at a conference on establishing or joining multi-academy trusts (MATs). My role in the event was to share what the research tells us so far about MATs and I was given two questions to answer:

  • What does the research say about the success of the MAT movement?
  • Has enough research been conducted to present tangible arguments about the benefits of MATs?

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Popular NFER blog posts of 2017

By Sundip Gill

From the shock general election to the long-awaited careers strategy, what a year 2017 has been in the world of education. Throughout this year, we have tackled some of the hottest topics in education here on the NFER blog. Our researchers have also been delving into data produced by the Department for Education (DfE), in a series of new blog posts focusing on Statistical First Releases. We will have more of these in 2018. You can subscribe to our blog (top right) to get notifications of all new posts direct to your inbox.

So in this final post of the year, here are some of the most popular NFER blog posts of 2017: Continue reading


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PIRLS 2016 results and the importance of teaching

By Juliet Sizmur

24 November 2010 marked a significant day for education.  As some four and five year olds were settling into their first term of school, it was also the day that former Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, unveiled his plans to overhaul education in England, publishing a new white paper, The Importance of TeachingContinue reading