The NFER blog

Evidence for excellence in education


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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


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Education White Paper – the devil will be in the detail

By Karen Wespieser

Last week the Department for Education (DfE) published their first White Paper in more than five years. Commentators have highlighted how it outlines plans for the most radical reshaping of education governance since the 1902 Education Act. It covers the big themes of how our education system is arranged, funded, governed and supplied with good quality teachers and leaders. However, it is not designed to set out the details of how these reforms will be implemented. Continue reading


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Is baseline really so bad?

By Catherine Kirkup

Consider two scenarios. In the first, a reception practitioner (teacher or teaching assistant) takes children aside one by one to listen to them ‘read’. For some children this means seeing if they understand that print conveys meaning, if they can point to the words on the page and understand that they relate to the pictures alongside, or if the book engages them. For other children, further ahead in their reading development, the practitioner considers which letters or words they can recognise or sound out, or their interest in and level of understanding of what they are reading. Continue reading


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Coasting schools and the cliff edge

Ben Durbin

When you walk along a coastal path close to the cliff edge, it’s hard to concentrate on anything other than the sheer drop below. It’s more difficult to hold a conversation and positively risky to look too far ahead for fear you might slip. This situation becomes all the more exaggerated for someone who does slip towards the edge, scrabbling to regain their footing.

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Regional Schools Commissioners and the performance of multi-academy trusts

By Ben Durbin

Substantial and increasing numbers of English schools are run by Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs), and yet we currently have no consistent and agreed upon method for assessing how well these MATs are performing.

This is one of the issues that was touched upon during yesterday’s Select Committee hearing on Regional Schools Commissioners (RSCs), which I was invited to appear before. Continue reading


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How can we best support coasting schools?

By Matt Walker

The waiting is finally over, and the government has now set out their definition of what constitutes a ‘coasting school’.  In my earlier post I explored some of the potential issues around the criteria chosen, and many others have commented too (see for example education datalab’s ‘Choose your own coasting secondary school’ tool).  While discussion of the definition will inevitably continue, it’s also important to consider the government’s proposed remedy. Continue reading