The NFER blog

Evidence for excellence in education


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‘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


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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


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Is evidence good for absolutely nothing?

By Ben Durbin

“What is evidence good for?  Absolutely nothing!”  This was one of the memorable moments from Campbell Collaboration CEO Howard White’s opening speech at the What Works Global Summit this week (quickly followed by the qualification: “Unless it gets into policy and practice”) Continue reading


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Executive Headteachers: What’s in a Name?

By Karen Wespieser

The naming of reports can be a tricky affair. Try to be too witty and the meaning becomes obtuse. Try to be too literal and it sounds boring. But the naming of our new report on executive headteachers (EHTs) didn’t suffer from this problem. One of the considerations we faced from day one of the project was understanding the great variety and breadth of the role. There is more than one kind of executive headteacher and the role is still evolving in response to the self-improving school system, so understanding what’s in a name was a pivotal part of the project. Continue reading


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What are we to make of the latest School Workforce statistics?

By Jack Worth

At a time when trainee targets are being missed, retaining the teachers already in the profession becomes all the more important. Teacher retention has been the focus of a programme of NFER research, including our Should I Stay or Should I Go? report last November and forthcoming research examining the experiences and intentions of teachers.

Yesterday’s School Workforce statistics show that the rate of teachers leaving the profession has jumped to the highest level since 2011, with 10 per cent of teachers having left between November 2014 and November 2015. In terms of teacher headcount, the proportion of teachers leaving is the highest since at least 2005. Continue reading


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The future of technical and professional education: joining up the dots

By Tami McCrone

The Learning and Skills Research Network (LSRN) workshop held last week on the future of technical and professional education was as current, relevant and thought-provoking as ever. Continue reading


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The power of collaboration: what schools can achieve through effective school-to-school partnership working

By Robert Smith

In a recent blog post I described what emerged from NFER’s evaluation of the Lead and Emerging Practitioner Pathfinder Project in Wales. I looked particularly at the characteristics of effective collaboration between schools. In this post I’ll describe the activities that resulted from this collaboration, and their perceived contribution to school improvement.
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Stronger by working together: Lessons on what makes for effective collaboration between schools in Wales

By Robert Smith

Allowing practitioners to design and lead change in the school system is increasingly the way that successful systems across the world are approaching educational reform. This trend is evident in Wales where policymakers are looking to harness the talent and enthusiasm that exists in schools to bring about a radical transformation of the way the education system works and an improvement in learner outcomes. This is regarded as essential if pupils in Wales are to fulfil their potential. It is also key to Wales’ effort to overcome disappointing outcomes, for example in recent PISA tests.
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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