The NFER blog

Evidence for excellence in education


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Are secondary schools making enough progress in closing the attainment gap?

By Caroline Sharp

I read the latest DfE Statistical First Release on 2016 GCSE results with great interest. Although most of the press coverage focused on the league tables of schools and the relative performance of grammar, academies and local authority schools, I was drawn to the section on the attainment gap in state-funded schools. This was a case of good news/bad news. Good news: the attainment gap between pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds and others reduced slightly in 2016, as it has in four of the last five years. Bad news: progress is slow and the position of disadvantaged pupils in 2016 is almost the same as in 2013. In fact, the gap would have been the same as last year if you exclude the recent addition of results from students in FE colleges. Continue reading


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Putting a Premium on smooth moves to and from secondary school

By guest bloggers Kerry Martin, Senior Research Manager and Tami McCrone, Research Director (Impact).

‘Parents’ greatest fears when their child starts secondary school are that they will be bullied or will not do well, rather than whether they will smoke, drink or use drugs, a survey has revealed. But their offspring’s number one concern is making the right sort of friends as they make the transition to their new environment, the same findings show.’ Continue reading