The NFER blog

Evidence for excellence in education


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The rise of Edu-Twitter: chat, collaboration and CPD

By Karen Wespieser

Globally, Twitter is stagnating with some even saying the end is nigh for the micro-blogging site. However, in the education sphere, Twitter is booming. It even has its own abbreviated proper noun: Edu-Twitter. In 2014, of the half a billion tweets that were posted every day, 4.2 million were related to education. This weekend, @theNFER reached the milestone of 10,000 followers, so it seems a good time to reflect on what Twitter means in education and why it is so popular.
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Is baseline really so bad?

By Catherine Kirkup

Consider two scenarios. In the first, a reception practitioner (teacher or teaching assistant) takes children aside one by one to listen to them ‘read’. For some children this means seeing if they understand that print conveys meaning, if they can point to the words on the page and understand that they relate to the pictures alongside, or if the book engages them. For other children, further ahead in their reading development, the practitioner considers which letters or words they can recognise or sound out, or their interest in and level of understanding of what they are reading. Continue reading


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Parents are in the dark about careers enlightenment for their children

By Tami McCrone

What did your child do at school today? An age old question that any parent will tell you is difficult to get an answer to at the best of times. In my house, I might achieve a grunt of ‘maths’ from my son, and perhaps a bit more of a detailed explanation of the latest graphics project from my daughter. But I don’t think any of my children ever came home and told me ‘we did careers education today mum and I’m interested in finding out more about working in business because that’s where my skills and interests lie!’
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Don’t forget the ‘parent’ in transparent when it comes to the role of Regional Schools Commissioners

By Karen Wespieser

Today the Education Select Committee published their report on The role of Regional Schools Commissioners.

NFER provided evidence to the inquiry – both written and oral – based on our Guide to Regional Schools Commissioners. Our Guide explained the background and role of the RSCs, and presented an analysis of characteristics and challenges for each region, including the number of ‘coasting’ schools that the RSCs will need to tackle if the Education and Adoption Bill becomes law. Continue reading


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Your school staffing mission, should you choose to accept it…

By Geoff Gee

You are a governor at Felpersham Comprehensive. Your long serving head of physics is retiring next year. What are you going to do about replacing her? Will anything being discussed in the run-up to the election make any difference to what you decide to do? Continue reading


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School Choice, a social mobility issue?

By Karen Wespieser

Yesterday,  I wrote about how, according to new NFER research, a majority of parents feel that they have a genuine choice in choosing a school. I also noted how local factors, such as the ‘school that suits my child’ and the location of the school were some of the most important factors in this choice. However, there is a little more nuance to this second point that needs to be explored… Continue reading


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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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Are more free schools a good idea?

By Ben Durbin

Earlier this week David Cameron announced plans to open 500 new free schools in the next Parliament. In doing so, he adopted a familiar template used by politicians announcing new policy initiatives: our previous policy has been successful; if you vote for us we’ll do it some more, and it’ll continue to be successful.

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