The NFER blog

Evidence for excellence in education


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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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Who’s interested in education?

By Karen Wespieser

One of the challenges of working in the education sector, is everyone has an opinion because everyone has been to school. Whilst this can be unhelpful in some contexts, it should be a real strength during a general election campaign. Yet, for nearly 20 years, education has not been a priority issue for politicians or the electorate. In 1997, nearly half the population thought that education was the most important issue facing Britain. Since 2007, this figure has been less than a quarter. Continue reading


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researchED 2015 – factchecking claims isn’t just about accuracy

By Amy Sippitt, Education Lead at Full Fact.

At the ITV general election leaders’ debate back in April, Nick Clegg claimed:

“If we want to make sure that our own youngsters get the jobs…we’ve got to train them up. Over the last five years we’ve got two million more people starting apprenticeships”.

He’s right that there was an increase of two million, but these new apprentices don’t necessarily represent better qualified youngsters. Look at the breakdown of the data and the biggest increase in starts was for those over 25, who made up 4 in 10 of the new starts. In other words—apprenticeship starts for the over 25s more than tripled, while starts for the under 19s increased by 3%. Continue reading


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Your school staffing mission, should you choose to accept it…

By Geoff Gee

You are a governor at Felpersham Comprehensive. Your long serving head of physics is retiring next year. What are you going to do about replacing her? Will anything being discussed in the run-up to the election make any difference to what you decide to do? Continue reading


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The primary consideration ‘should’ be the best interests of the young person

By Tami McCrone

As the election debates stagger on I find it interesting that there is so little focus on young people and preparing them for the challenging world of work ahead of them. I accept that I am an education researcher (so have quite an interest in this area) but it seems to me that the future of our country relies heavily on them. When I’m sitting in my rocking chair in years to come I want to be sure that our country’s economy, defence, health service (and education system) are in good hands.

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School Choice, a social mobility issue?

By Karen Wespieser

Yesterday,  I wrote about how, according to new NFER research, a majority of parents feel that they have a genuine choice in choosing a school. I also noted how local factors, such as the ‘school that suits my child’ and the location of the school were some of the most important factors in this choice. However, there is a little more nuance to this second point that needs to be explored… Continue reading


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I have a choice

By Karen Wespieser

Today, parents up and down the country will be anxiously waiting to hear if their son or daughter has been accepted to join their chosen primary school. Next year, I will be joining the nervous masses, but this year I am just gearing up for it. In fact, last weekend, I spent much of my time looking at the websites of local primary schools and discussing with my husband the factors that are important to us in choosing the school that our three-year-old daughter might attend. Whilst admittedly slightly ahead of the curve (well what would you expect from an education researcher and an English teacher), this is a choice that an ever increasing number of families will need to make this autumn.

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