The NFER blog

Evidence for excellence in education


If summer-borns do less well at school, who or what is to blame?

By guest blogger Caroline Sharp, Research Director (October-born)

I recently attended the launch of the Nuffield report on month of birth. I have been researching this issue for some years now, so I was pleased to be invited onto the project advisory group. Actually, when I was first invited I thought ‘what will this new study add to our knowledge of the subject?’ followed swiftly by ‘why didn’t I think of that?’. Continue reading

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How should secondary schools be held to account?

I’m very lucky working at NFER in that I have a large team of incredibly knowledgeable people around me – we work well together sharing out the jobs that need doing.  But when the consultation on secondary school accountability was launched I knew this was something I wanted to lead on myself.  The ways in which schools in England are held to account is at the very heart of whether our education system delivers what we, as a society, need it to or not. Continue reading

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Whose needs will the new TechBacc serve?

The government has recently announced its plans to introduce a new TechBacc performance measure.  There must be virtually unanimous support among young people and stakeholders for such an idea, in particular I would expect this route to be appealing for young people who prefer and are more motivated by an applied learning route.  There are some valuable elements of the proposal, however, I also have some concerns about the detail, as well as the speed of its implementation. Continue reading

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Buzz, badges and leader boards – just what is gamification anyway?

By Carlo Perrotta of Futurelab at NFER

In my previous post I discussed the tension between innovation and formal schooling, and in our recent report we consciously kept to discussion of evidence relating to game-based learning in the context of formal schooling. However we did a lot of thinking about the broader topic of gamification and I thought it would be worthwhile to set out some of our thoughts here as a way of developing discussion on this area. Continue reading

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Gamification: an awkward new kid on the education block?

By Carlo Perrotta of Futurelab at NFER

We recently published a report that reviews the latest evidence about game-based learning and explores (possible) future directions. With this post, I would like to share some of the “behind the scenes” considerations that took place while we were appraising the literature. Continue reading