Festival of Education and Festival of Skills

22-23 June 2017, Wellington College, Crowthorne, RG45 7PU


Over two days the Festival of Education and the Festival of Skills brought together the very best of education’s most forward thinking advocates, practitioners of change, policy makers and educators in workshops, speaking sessions and activities.

NFER staff presented four sessions. For more information on these sessions, see below or visit the Festival of Education and Festival of Skills websites.

Festival of Education

Is there a crisis in teacher retention?
23 June 2017 - 12:10 to 12:50 - Seb Faulks E1

It is common parlance these days to talk of a “crisis” in teacher retention, but what does the workforce data show? And, if there is a crisis, what can be done about it?

Education researcher Karen Wespieser (@KarenWespieser) opened this session by reviewing the key facts. She was joined for a discussion on what teachers and schools can do about teacher retention by:

  • Primary teacher and school wellness guru, Samantha Collins (@SamsSchoolStuff)
  • Secondary teacher and author of How to Survive and Thrive in Teaching, Emma Kell (@ThoseThatCan)

The session was then opened up to discussion with the audience. The session was also streamed live on our Facebook page.



Karen's Wespieser's slides from the session



PISA: Hero or villain of the education world?
23 June 2017 - 12:10 to 12:50 - Room M3

What can we learn from international studies such as PISA, which compare education systems worldwide? Findings are increasingly accompanied by a flurry of media attention, much of which focuses solely on league table rankings. Other commentators draw attention to the role the studies can play in improving education systems. However, there are also vocal critics who question their validity and undue influence. In this session Ben Durbin, Head of International Education at NFER, provided an introduction to the international studies and explored some of the controversies surrounding them.



Ben Durbin's slides from the session



Festival of Skills

Are university technical colleges working?
22 June 2017 - 15:10 to 15:50 - Venue 4

With continued debate surrounding the effectiveness of University Technical Colleges (UTCs), Jude Hillary, Head of Quantitative Research at NFER, used this session to explore the latest evidence, based on new analysis carried out by NFER using the National Pupil Database, school performance data and other sources. This included looking at the background and prior attainment of pupils attending UTCs compared to their peers, and the differences between the most and least successful UTCs in the light of government school performance measures. 



Jude Hillary's slides from the session


Employer engagement in education: opportunities and challenges
22 June 2017 - 12:10 to 12:50 - Venue 4

Our Research Director, David Sims and Deputy Head of Centre for Evidence and Evaluation, Suzanne Straw, presented at the Festival of Skills on the challenges and opportunities for employer engagement in education. The college-based and employer-based technical routes have been introduced in order to develop young people’s occupation-specific and transferable skills to meet the current productivity challenge this country faces. Integral to this change is greater engagement in education. David and Suzanne drew on the extensive portfolio of work in this area to highlight some of the key opportunities in skills development.



David and Suzanne's slides from the session


To register, please visit the Festival of Education or Festival of Skills websites.