The NFER blog

Evidence for excellence in education


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The Industrial Strategy: Will the Government put its money where its mouth is?

By Claudia Sumner

The problem of low productivity in Britain is at the heart of the Government’s Industrial Strategy, and after the woeful predictions about the economy in last week’s budget, the Government is hoping to change the narrative and regain the initiative. NFER agree with the Government that ‘investment in education is vital to address challenges facing the economy.’ 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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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


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If you want to learn, ask a teacher

By Claudia Sumner and Sigrid Boyd

The third and final part of this blog series on evidence-informed policymaking looks at the importance of stakeholders.

Involving stakeholders in the development of public policy seems a no-brainer. After all, it is stakeholders who will ultimately interpret, implement and experience policy and they are best placed to anticipate any unintended effects or consequences on the ground. Following the general election, David Bell (who ran the Department for Education under both Ed Balls and Michael Gove and is now Vice-Chancellor of Reading University), said that while evidence will always be interpreted through an ideological lens, ‘the best lessons for politicians come from teachers themselves’. Continue reading


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Keeping up with the Jönses: European mechanisms for evidence-informed policymaking

By Sigrid Boyd and Claudia Sumner

Second of a three-part blog series on evidence-informed policymaking.

Promoting the use of evidence in policymaking is something to which politicians often pay lip service – no-one wants to appear ill-informed or unaware of the outcome of previous policy initiatives. But many politicians are not experts in the field prior to ministerial appointment and they, consequently, rely heavily upon the structures in place to inform and support their decisions. In our previous blog post, NFER looked at the ‘what works’ centres that exist in England to synthesise research findings into evidence that policy-makers can actually use. Continue reading


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Importance of evidence in a post-truth world

By Julie Nelson and Claudia Sumner

First of a three-part blog series on evidence-informed policymaking.

Following a bruising election campaign, which saw an ideological fight seldom witnessed in British politics, the Prime Minister and her ministers must get down to the business of policy-making. Continue reading


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Schools that work for everyone: Measuring disadvantage

By Joana Andrade

The UK government has recently been consulting on new proposals for ensuring good school places and opportunity for all young people in England, regardless of disadvantage (the consultation closed earlier this week). In my previous post I argued that any such policy should be based on a broad concept of disadvantage, taking account of economic, social and cultural capitals. Continue reading