The NFER blog

Evidence for excellence in education


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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


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The poetry and prose of careers guidance

By Ben Durbin

It is said that you campaign in poetry and govern in prose. While Labour’s education manifesto, launched last week, was hardly poetry, when it came to its commitments on careers guidance the sentiment was certainly right.  However, it was light on detail and raised as many questions as it answered.

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How do we create a more responsive skills system?

By guest blogger Philippa Mellish, Policy Manager, South East Strategic Leaders

Philippa Mellish speculates on skills beyond May’s election and signposts new resources to help schools, colleges and SMEs have one conversation, do just one thing, to shape a fit for purpose skills system Continue reading