The NFER blog

Evidence for excellence in education


Leave a comment

School funding: Why we must not lose focus on addressing disadvantage

By Caroline Sharp and Maire Williams

Earlier this week, the NFER blog focused on the urgent issue of school funding. But while the politicians argue, is there more that can be done at a school level? Continue reading


Leave a comment

Education funding – time for more than just talking

By Karen Wespieser and Maire Williams

In the two televised debates that have taken place so far, a teacher has been in the audience each time to ask the politicians about their education pledges. In the first debate, a teacher asked a panel of leaders “what would you do to support teachers in schools to make sure every child gets the best start in life regardless of background?” Last night, even though education didn’t feature highly, a teacher asked Theresa May “how will you ensure schools are adequately funded?” Continue reading


Leave a comment

‘When I saw the opportunity to take the prime minister to task over grammar schools, I had to take it’

By Karen Wespieser

This blog first appeared on TES, Monday 22 May 2017.

We all know that in the British political system, the electorate doesn’t actually vote for the prime minister – they vote for their local MP. Except I do. I live in Maidenhead – Theresa May’s constituency. So next month, her name will be on my ballot sheet. She therefore pops up at all the local events that one expects a constituency MP to attend: the local marathon, visiting local businesses and opening fetes. Continue reading


Leave a comment

Getting the facts straight on education

By Karen Wespieser

Four weeks have passed since Theresa May called a snap general election. Through this time, we have been waiting for the manifestos to be published and speculating how much focus education and evidence would receive. Continue reading


Leave a comment

Putting evidence at the heart of policymaking

By Carole Willis

This blog post first appeared on the CaSE guest blog.

In election debates over the next few weeks, politicians of different hues will be making very different claims about what the evidence says is best for the country (if they draw on the evidence at all).

Finding ways to ensure that evidence is given sufficient weight and fully embedded in policymaking and political discourse is crucial. This may seem like an obvious point, but continues to be a challenge, as this new report from CaSE highlights.

Continue reading


1 Comment

Who’s interested in education?

By Karen Wespieser

One of the challenges of working in the education sector, is everyone has an opinion because everyone has been to school. Whilst this can be unhelpful in some contexts, it should be a real strength during a general election campaign. Yet, for nearly 20 years, education has not been a priority issue for politicians or the electorate. In 1997, nearly half the population thought that education was the most important issue facing Britain. Since 2007, this figure has been less than a quarter. Continue reading


Leave a comment

All singing from the same hymn sheet: a new approach to assessment

By Claire Hodgson

At NFER we have long been involved in assessment and have worked closely with schools to help provide assessments and other products and services that support effective teaching and learning. We were aware that the abolition of reportable national curriculum levels created a dilemma for schools – on the one hand it gave them greater autonomy in the way they plan and assess learning; on the other, it created uncertainty about what this new way of assessing should look like. NFER was not alone in recognising this dilemma and, in partnership with ASCL (The Association of School and College Leaders) and SSAT (The schools, students and teachers network), decided to develop a free-to-use resource to support schools in developing their own approach to assessment. Continue reading


1 Comment

Retaining teachers in Wales – what do we know?

By Jack Worth and Jennifer Garry

As we have previously reported, government statistics show that retaining working age teachers in England appears to have been getting more difficult, while our latest survey data suggests this trend may now be reversing. Last month the Education Select Committee published a report on teacher recruitment and retention in England, urging the Government to “place greater emphasis on retaining teachers and not just focus on the necessary task of recruiting new teachers”. But what do we know about teachers in Wales? Continue reading


Leave a comment

Life as an NFER apprentice

By Harminder Hundal

In 2015/16, 509, 400 people started apprenticeships in England and I was one of them! In May 2016 I began my journey as an apprentice with NFER, and looking back it was the best step I could have taken for my career.

To embark on my journey as an apprentice I abandoned my degree in Diagnostic Radiography. I was advised by close family and friends that I was academically capable and by leaving my degree unfinished I would be jeopardising my career. According to this study, only one-quarter of parents judge vocational education to be worthwhile.

When I joined NFER I didn’t know what I wanted to do as a career. Several roles were explained to me and I was fortunate enough to have a choice to work in whichever departments I was most interested in. So far, I have experienced three different job roles, each for three months. Each role has taught me invaluable skills; as a HR administrator I enhanced my basic office skills, as a project-coordinator, I learnt adaptability and working in finance has helped me believe in myself. Personally I consider self-confidence as priceless, once gained obviously!

Working as an apprentice has enhanced my organisation and time management skills, through working and studying at the same time. I have had to adapt and transfer my skill set for use in different areas of the business. During my journey I have also had to learn to work well under pressure, working between two departments.

I have had a real insight into this world of work; I have experienced different roles and learnt what careers they lead to. I work alongside people who support my journey, talk about theirs and give me every opportunity to learn every day. I have been given positive direction. It is vital that we as a society acknowledge the value of apprenticeships.

NFER’s aim is for all young people to make a successful transition from education to employment. As a part of this aim they are interested in changing attitudes towards vocational education, and they are putting their money where their mouth is! They seem truly interested in creating the most beneficial stepping stones for a young person’s career – in my career. As I come to the end of my journey with NFER I have found my lost love for numbers and I am hoping to begin my career in Finance in the next couple of months.