The NFER blog

Evidence for excellence in education


Leave a comment

Time for reform of the apprenticeship levy?

By Maire Williams and Jens Van den Brande

The role of apprenticeships in improving the lives of young learners is high on the government’s agenda and in the wider policy world. Given this, the apprenticeship levy has received much attention and criticism since its inception. In fact, the Department for Education (DfE) is already having to handle calls for its reform. A year on from the levy being introduced, we delved into the latest statistics on apprenticeship starts from the DfE to see what kind of impact the policy is having.  Continue reading


Leave a comment

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


Leave a comment

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.

Continue reading


Leave a comment

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


1 Comment

Popular NFER blog posts of 2017

By Sundip Gill

From the shock general election to the long-awaited careers strategy, what a year 2017 has been in the world of education. Throughout this year, we have tackled some of the hottest topics in education here on the NFER blog. Our researchers have also been delving into data produced by the Department for Education (DfE), in a series of new blog posts focusing on Statistical First Releases. We will have more of these in 2018. You can subscribe to our blog (top right) to get notifications of all new posts direct to your inbox.

So in this final post of the year, here are some of the most popular NFER blog posts of 2017: Continue reading


Leave a comment

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


Leave a comment

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


Leave a comment

What’s happening to reading under the new Key Stage 2 curriculum and assessment regime?

By Jennie Harland and Claire Hodgson

The Government has today published the provisional national curriculum assessment results for Key Stage (KS) 2 for primary pupils in England. They show very encouraging increases in attainment compared with the 2016 results, with 61 per cent of pupils reaching the expected standard in reading, writing and mathematics (i.e. a scaled score of 100 or more or a teacher assessment of ‘reaching the expected standard’ or ‘working at greater depth’ in writing) in 2017 compared with 53 per cent in 2016. Continue reading


Leave a comment

The ups and downs of teacher recruitment

By Maire Williams

Teacher recruitment has been a widely reported and challenging issue for the education sector for some time. The Government has responded by running recruitment campaigns and offering financial incentives to attract new trainee teachers. The latest Initial Teacher Training performance statistics for the 2015/16 academic year, released today, show a small increase in the total number of trainees for the first time since 2009/10. In part, this is because Teach First trainees have been included, but even excluding these figures a small increase remains.  Coming at a time when more teachers are needed in the next ten years to cope with the large projected increase in pupil numbers, this increase looks promising. Yet, due to the longer-term trend, the number of trainees (including Teach First trainees) remains 13 per cent lower today than it was in 2009/10. Continue reading


Leave a comment

Increasing pupil numbers create challenges for secondary schools

By Suzanne Straw

The Government has today published the latest Department for Education (DfE) national pupil projections. They show that state primary and secondary pupil numbers are expected to continue to grow over the coming years. The number of primary pupils will see a small increase of 1.9 per cent between 2017 and 2021, after which it will plateau. However, secondary schools will see a much larger increase, with the number of full-time equivalent pupils aged up to 15 years projected to increase by 320,000 (+11.4 per cent) by 2021 and to continue to grow until 2025. This significant growth for secondary schools suggests a major challenge ahead and, in this blog post, we look at what this might mean for the sector. Continue reading