The NFER blog

Evidence for excellence in education


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Importance of evidence in a post-truth world

By Julie Nelson and Claudia Sumner

First of a three-part blog series on evidence-informed policymaking.

Following a bruising election campaign, which saw an ideological fight seldom witnessed in British politics, the Prime Minister and her ministers must get down to the business of policy-making. 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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Building bridges between teachers and researchers

By Matt Walker

Schools and teachers are increasingly expected to engage with research evidence to enhance teachers’ professional practice, pupil outcomes and school capacity for self-improvement. However, this is easier said than done and it can be difficult to know where to start. Last week I attended the first day of a two-day conference which brought together researchers and teachers to talk about using research to improve teaching and learning of STEM subjects.
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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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Weaving a little magic

By Gareth Mills

Every day teachers have to weave a little magic. They have to take the dry words of a curriculum document or syllabus and turn them into engaging and memorable learning experiences for young people.

As teachers working hard to make a difference, we need to enjoy memorable and engaging learning experiences too. While one-off courses and conferences have their place, evidence suggests that the best CPD takes place over time, is focused on real classrooms and involves a degree of collaborative enquiry. That’s why NFER designed the Enquiring Schools approach to professional learning. Continue reading


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Striving for ‘knowledge animation’ – can we bring evidence-informed practice to life?

By Julie Nelson

Last month, Professor Carol Campbell (University of Toronto and Knowledge Network for Applied Educational Research) and I co-hosted a round-table discussion at the International Congress for School Improvement and Effectiveness, and simultaneously issued a call for papers for a special issue of Educational Research on evidence-informed practice (EiP) in education. We were joined by researchers, policymakers and teaching professionals from many countries.

The discussion provided an opportunity to discuss the issues planned for coverage in the journal.
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The online activities of London’s young people: evidence-based tips to develop e-safety

By Karen Wespieser

To mark Safer Internet Day in 2015, the London Grid for Learning commissioned NFER to conduct a survey of 16,855 London children aged seven to 16 to find out about their online activities. This year on Safer Internet Day we can reflect on the results.
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Um, but what is an academy?

By Karen Wespieser

Over my past three blogs, I have explored new NFER data  on school choice. I have discussed how parents believe they have a genuine choice, how this choice is often influenced by local conditions and how this varies to some extent depending on household income. One thing I haven’t dwelt on though is the impact that one of the biggest education reforms this parliament has had on choice. Namely, academy schools. Continue reading