The NFER blog

Evidence for excellence in education


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

Choose a not-for-profit research organisation for a lower effect size?

By Ben Styles

As the head of NFER’s Education Trials Unit, I was interested to read Professor Stephen Gorard’s recent book on Randomised Controlled Trials (RCTs) in education.

It’s an interesting book but there are aspects that I would like to challenge. Take the passage that reads: ‘One of the main problems with [the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) and the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF)] lies in finding the capacity among traditional researchers in university departments of education to conduct and even appreciate such work… Instead, the funds have been taken up by the growing sector of not-for-profit organisations… IES (and EEF in the UK) need the capacity that these organisations offer in order to conduct evaluations, and the organisations themselves need the external funding maintained in order to pay the salary of staff employed to do the evaluations. This might make the organisations more likely to provide what they feel the funder wants…’ Continue reading