The NFER blog

Evidence for excellence in education


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International school spending – how does the UK compare?

By Maire Williams

Over the last six months, school funding has been an almost constant feature in policy debate, from the proposed introduction of a National Funding Formula to the longer running cuts and freezes schools are facing to their budgets. However, far less has been said on how the UK compares internationally. While there are obviously some ‘health warnings’ around comparing international data, including recognising that different countries may be pursuing different priorities, international comparisons can still give us insight into how outcomes vary (or don’t vary) with expenditure.  Continue reading


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Are teacher pay reforms having an impact on schools?

By Matt Walker

Growth in pupil numbers as well as the increased costs associated with pensions, national insurance and inflation are putting pressure on school budgets in England. At the same time, school workforce and teacher retention are high on the education policy agenda. Continue reading


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Apprenticeships In England – are they working?

By Zoe des Clayes

Currently the United Kingdom’s (UK) gross domestic product per hour worked is at least 20 per cent behind that of the USA, France and Germany, according to official figures from the Office of National Statistics. The green paper, Building our Industrial Strategy (January 2017) argues that the productivity gap between the UK and these other countries could be partially closed by developing the technical and higher level vocational skills of the UK workforce. This green paper argues that high-quality apprenticeships are a core way to improve these skills across the UK. The strategy also highlights that improving these skills is especially important because of the increasing mechanisation of low skill jobs and the UK’s departure from the European Union.  Continue reading


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Party conferences: policy aspiration, inspiration and ideation

By Karen Wespieser and Claudia Sumner

Party conferences are, by their nature, all about policy aspiration, inspiration and ideation. For the party currently in government, it is also a time for reflection and celebration. But whichever ‘tion’ is in the spotlight, research evidence can play a useful role. Continue reading