The NFER blog

Evidence for excellence in education


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We don’t need no education?

By Ben Durbin, Head of Impact

Last night, David Cameron and Ed Miliband faced questions from Jeremy Paxman and members of the public in the first set piece event of the election campaign.  So, in the week that education moved up the polls to become the fifth most important issue facing Britain (after immigration, the NHS, the economy and unemployment), how did it feature?

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How do we create a more responsive skills system?

By guest blogger Philippa Mellish, Policy Manager, South East Strategic Leaders

Philippa Mellish speculates on skills beyond May’s election and signposts new resources to help schools, colleges and SMEs have one conversation, do just one thing, to shape a fit for purpose skills system Continue reading


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The ‘what, why and how’ of research engagement – NFER’s new resource for schools

By Julie Nelson

According to a recent NFER blog post by Deputy Headteacher Alex Quigley, engaging with research is a potentially powerful tool to support change and autonomy in schools. But what does ‘engaging with research’ mean? Why does it matter? And how can your school get started? Continue reading


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Are more free schools a good idea?

By Ben Durbin

Earlier this week David Cameron announced plans to open 500 new free schools in the next Parliament. In doing so, he adopted a familiar template used by politicians announcing new policy initiatives: our previous policy has been successful; if you vote for us we’ll do it some more, and it’ll continue to be successful.

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Schools’ capacity for change in interesting times

By Ben Durbin

May you live in interesting times. It’s not a pronouncement you make on your friends – reputedly of Chinese origin, it is generally used as a curse.  Schools have certainly been living through some interesting times of late, with reforms affecting what pupils are taught, how they’re assessed, the standards they’re expected to achieve, and the way in which schools are held to account.  The latest developments came last week with the launch of a new assessment without levels commission. Continue reading