The NFER blog

Evidence for excellence in education


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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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The poetry and prose of careers guidance

By Ben Durbin

It is said that you campaign in poetry and govern in prose. While Labour’s education manifesto, launched last week, was hardly poetry, when it came to its commitments on careers guidance the sentiment was certainly right.  However, it was light on detail and raised as many questions as it answered.

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WANTED – MPs with teaching experience for new Select Committee

By Geoff Gee

Education policy is better for having a process of rigorous scrutiny that draws on robust evidence. The Education Select Committee has become a key part of that process. So one outcome of the General Election will be to determine who is available to serve on the Committee, which will be key to how effective it is in the next Parliament.  Continue reading


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Young people find their election voice

By Ben Durbin, Head of Impact

Last night was the night that the voice of young people finally broke through into the election campaign.  After education’s absence from last week’s interviews with Cameron and Miliband, it was especially edifying to see a young politics student asking the opening question (on the budget deficit), and at once establishing his own credentials as a future leader (on twitter at least!)…

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Is baseline assessment really ‘invalid and harmful’?

By Marian Sainsbury, assessment expert, former Primary teacher, and NFER research associate

As the new baseline assessment policy develops, opinions are quickly polarising. The Department for Education (DfE) is introducing this assessment from September. Baseline assessment will take place in the first six weeks of children starting school and provides a score for measuring a pupil’s progress from the beginning to the end of primary school and beyond. Continue reading