The NFER blog

Evidence for excellence in education


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researchED 2015 – factchecking claims isn’t just about accuracy

By Amy Sippitt, Education Lead at Full Fact.

At the ITV general election leaders’ debate back in April, Nick Clegg claimed:

“If we want to make sure that our own youngsters get the jobs…we’ve got to train them up. Over the last five years we’ve got two million more people starting apprenticeships”.

He’s right that there was an increase of two million, but these new apprentices don’t necessarily represent better qualified youngsters. Look at the breakdown of the data and the biggest increase in starts was for those over 25, who made up 4 in 10 of the new starts. In other words—apprenticeship starts for the over 25s more than tripled, while starts for the under 19s increased by 3%. 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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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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Five years of hunger

The second in our Election 2015 blog series by Geoff Gee

2009 was only five years ago, but it seems longer. Ed Balls was still Secretary of State for Children Schools and Families. The first book in the Hunger Games series was just out in paperback. The Audit Commission had a series of publications titled Valuable Lessons: their subject was value for money in schools, rather than adolescent combat-to-the-death in a dystopian future. Continue reading


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Subtracting calculators from maths tests doesn’t add up

By Oliver Stacey

There is considerable debate among teachers and policy makers about the appropriate role of calculators in primary school maths. Recent research at NFER looking at primary maths assessments challenges some of these conventionally held views on the impact of calculators in primary schools. Continue reading