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Evidence for excellence in education

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Keeping up with the Jönses: European mechanisms for evidence-informed policymaking

By Sigrid Boyd and Claudia Sumner

Second of a three-part blog series on evidence-informed policymaking.

Promoting the use of evidence in policymaking is something to which politicians often pay lip service – no-one wants to appear ill-informed or unaware of the outcome of previous policy initiatives. But many politicians are not experts in the field prior to ministerial appointment and they, consequently, rely heavily upon the structures in place to inform and support their decisions. In our previous blog post, NFER looked at the ‘what works’ centres that exist in England to synthesise research findings into evidence that policy-makers can actually use. Continue reading

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English Baccalaureate: still much to do..

By Lucy Ellis

In November 2015, the Department for Education (DfE) issued a consultation document on implementing the English Baccalaureate (EBacc). Launched in 2011, the EBacc was introduced by the then coalition government to encourage pupils to study more traditional subjects. It is achieved by studying GCSEs in certain subjects: English, maths, science, history or geography, and a foreign language.  Pupils are required to achieve a good pass in five of these ‘components’ in order to achieve the EBacc. Continue reading


Is evidence good for absolutely nothing?

By Ben Durbin

“What is evidence good for?  Absolutely nothing!”  This was one of the memorable moments from Campbell Collaboration CEO Howard White’s opening speech at the What Works Global Summit this week (quickly followed by the qualification: “Unless it gets into policy and practice”) Continue reading

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Striving for ‘knowledge animation’ – can we bring evidence-informed practice to life?

By Julie Nelson

Last month, Professor Carol Campbell (University of Toronto and Knowledge Network for Applied Educational Research) and I co-hosted a round-table discussion at the International Congress for School Improvement and Effectiveness, and simultaneously issued a call for papers for a special issue of Educational Research on evidence-informed practice (EiP) in education. We were joined by researchers, policymakers and teaching professionals from many countries.

The discussion provided an opportunity to discuss the issues planned for coverage in the journal.
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The online activities of London’s young people: evidence-based tips to develop e-safety

By Karen Wespieser

To mark Safer Internet Day in 2015, the London Grid for Learning commissioned NFER to conduct a survey of 16,855 London children aged seven to 16 to find out about their online activities. This year on Safer Internet Day we can reflect on the results.
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Research in schools: experience and tips from the frontline

By Caroline Fisher, NFER Product Manager

Recently, we were thrilled to get a group of school leaders together with whom NFER has worked independently on research engagement over the past couple of years. We wanted to find out how these schools have successfully managed to engage with research and what they have learnt from the process.

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The importance of knowing what doesn’t work

By Ben Styles

This blog post leads on from a previous blog on ‘The importance of not making a difference,’ and is taken from a more detailed article.

I have recently been reminded of the difficulty we face when trying to communicate null or negative findings from research. In Spring 2013, a team from Coventry University delivered the Chatterbooks programme as part of a randomised controlled trial (RCT) funded by the Education Endowment Foundation. Chatterbooks is an extracurricular reading initiative that aims to increase a child’s motivation to read by providing schools with tools and resources to encourage reading for pleasure. In this trial, Chatterbooks was delivered instead of normal lessons. Continue reading