The NFER blog

Evidence for excellence in education


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Increasing pupil numbers create challenges for secondary schools

By Suzanne Straw

The Government has today published the latest Department for Education (DfE) national pupil projections. They show that state primary and secondary pupil numbers are expected to continue to grow over the coming years. The number of primary pupils will see a small increase of 1.9 per cent between 2017 and 2021, after which it will plateau. However, secondary schools will see a much larger increase, with the number of full-time equivalent pupils aged up to 15 years projected to increase by 320,000 (+11.4 per cent) by 2021 and to continue to grow until 2025. This significant growth for secondary schools suggests a major challenge ahead and, in this blog post, we look at what this might mean for the sector. Continue reading


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Is change in the air for RSCs?

By Ben Durbin

Despite Ofsted’s Sir Michael Wilshaw urging that debate should move away from school structures, the first report from the House of Commons Education Select Committee since the general election focused on one of the key structural developments of recent times. The report examines the role of Regional Schools Commissioners (RSCs), which were established in September 2014 to oversee the growing number of academies across eight regions, and which were subsequently given increasing responsibilities and powers to address underperformance across the school system in England.

One of the recommendations of the Committee’s report is a re-definition of the RSC regions – but what impact will this have on schools and the RSCs? I’ve crunched the numbers to find out. 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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What is a coasting school?

By Matt Walker

Writing recently in the Sunday Telegraph, the Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan, has said that she will introduce new powers to intervene in coasting schools. These schools, she said ‘will be put on immediate notice and be required to work with our team of expert headteachers. Those that aren’t able to demonstrate a clear plan for improvement will be given new leadership’. The proposals will be in a new bill due to be introduced in the Queen’s Speech today.
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Local schools for local kids

By Karen Wespieser

It is now 10 years since Alastair Campbell’s now infamous claim that the days of the ‘bog-standard comprehensive’ are over.  Whether or not this is true, I have been discussing this in a series of blogs on school choice (School Choice, a social mobility issue? and I have a choice), how a majority of parents still want to rely on their local school. Continue reading