The NFER blog

Evidence for excellence in education


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Is education the key to social mobility – or a hidden chain?

I read the recent press coverage of the OECD’s latest research on academic performance and poverty – suggesting the poorest students in high performing countries can outperform the richest in the UK and which featured a quote saying the report ‘debunks the myth that poverty is destiny’ – with interest that turned to concern. Continue reading


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Why low adult numeracy shows the number’s up for navel gazing

There are few surprises for England and Northern Ireland among the results from the International Survey of Adult Skills, the most recent large scale assessment of adult competencies, published today. The reports for England and Northern Ireland – produced by the International Comparisons team here at NFER – contain both good news and issues of deep concern, with the data raising more questions than it answers. NFER will certainly be looking to answer some of these questions over the coming weeks and months, and let’s hope others also take time to dig deep into what is a rich seam of data, to start unravelling some of the complex stories it contains – not least how qualifications translate into skills and how those skills translate in the job market. Continue reading


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The line of best fit isn’t always a straight line

I remember the first time I was taught by a good maths teacher and discovered with joy that maths was not just endless repetition and learning of formulae but a hidden language, a series of codes and puzzles, a playground of the mind; and I was hooked. At the time, preparing for my O levels, I did not appreciate that my mathematical journey was a reflection of the changes that were happening in maths education through developments such as MEI. Continue reading