The NFER blog

Evidence for excellence in education


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TIMSS and PISA results: Seeing past the headlines

By Ben Durbin

This blog post first appeared on the IEA blog.

Education research does not often make newspaper headlines. Even less often does it make headlines in multiple countries around the world. In just a few weeks time we will see a rare exception. Continue reading


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The importance of knowing what doesn’t work

By Ben Styles

This blog post leads on from a previous blog on ‘The importance of not making a difference,’ and is taken from a more detailed article.

I have recently been reminded of the difficulty we face when trying to communicate null or negative findings from research. In Spring 2013, a team from Coventry University delivered the Chatterbooks programme as part of a randomised controlled trial (RCT) funded by the Education Endowment Foundation. Chatterbooks is an extracurricular reading initiative that aims to increase a child’s motivation to read by providing schools with tools and resources to encourage reading for pleasure. In this trial, Chatterbooks was delivered instead of normal lessons. Continue reading


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researchED 2015 – factchecking claims isn’t just about accuracy

By Amy Sippitt, Education Lead at Full Fact.

At the ITV general election leaders’ debate back in April, Nick Clegg claimed:

“If we want to make sure that our own youngsters get the jobs…we’ve got to train them up. Over the last five years we’ve got two million more people starting apprenticeships”.

He’s right that there was an increase of two million, but these new apprentices don’t necessarily represent better qualified youngsters. Look at the breakdown of the data and the biggest increase in starts was for those over 25, who made up 4 in 10 of the new starts. In other words—apprenticeship starts for the over 25s more than tripled, while starts for the under 19s increased by 3%. Continue reading