The NFER blog

Evidence for excellence in education


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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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