Zoe des Clayes

Researcher (Graduate Programme)
z.desclayes@nfer.ac.uk, +44 (0)1753 637294

Zoe joined NFER in October 2016 on NFER’s Education Graduate Researcher training programme. She is currently working in the Centre for Evaluation and Consultancy where she has been supporting numerous research projects through coordinating trials, performing case studies visits to schools, writing sections of reports, drafting interview schedules, researching information for proposals as well as undertaking quantitative analysis. As part of the Graduate Programme, Zoe will shortly be moving to her second placement in the Centre for International Education working in Research and Project Operations and NFER’s Centre for Statistics.

Zoe has a distinction graded MSc in Psychology of Education from University College London (Institute of Education) and is a graduate member of the British Psychological Society (MBPsS). Through the programme she gained a wide range of qualitative and quantitative research experience culminating in a research trial for her dissertation. This was in the use of technology and its effects on the quality and quantity of a KS2 child’s written compositions and was graded at distinction level.

Before joining NFER, Zoe spent four years working in schools, teaching English as a foreign language in France as part of the British Council language assistant scheme and working in support based roles at both primary and secondary level in England. During this time she helped deliver a research trial for the Educational Endowment Foundation (Talk for Literacy), supported the delivery of EHCP plans, coordinated transitions for key students and delivered small group and whole class lessons. In addition to this Zoe has a BA (Hons) in Social Anthropology and Music from the School of Oriental and African Studies and a Certificate in English Language Teaching for Adults (CELTA).


Q+A with Zoe on the NFER Educational Research Graduate Scheme...

  1. Why did you choose to join the NFER Graduate scheme?
    I absolutely loved my masters and my dissertation and knew I really enjoyed the researching so thought it might be a job I wanted to do. I was attracted to this scheme in particular as it seemed a rare opportunity to build a wide range of different research skills e.g. quantitative analysis, case study visits, interview techniques etc. specifically in the field of education.
  1. What have you worked on so far?
    So many things! I have worked on over 14 projects since joining in October. These include: proposals for big clients like the Department of Education, research projects evaluating particular interventions and programmes, in-house projects looking at University Technical Colleges and Teacher entrance and leave rates, my own graduate research project, as well as a report and quantitative analysis for the National College of Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) on teachers re-entering the profession.
  1. What have you enjoyed working on most so far?
    This is hard to say, there have been many things I have enjoyed. I think doing the quantitative analysis and write up for part of the NCTL report has been the most satisfying, as I was given a lot of ownership over this aspect of the project. It also developed my quantitative skills; I had never written SPSS syntax before. I have also really enjoyed going to conferences, the last one I went to was in the Department of Education.
  1. What would you say to someone considering applying to the NFER Graduate Programme? (Who would it be most suitable for?)
    My advice, apply for the programme if:
    1. You enjoyed your dissertation and like working with large data sets and learning statistics.
    2. If you are interested in working for an independent research organisation and have a genuine interest in education.
    3. If you are focused on building a broad set of research skills.
    4. If you know you like working in a team and like to learn.

    This programme may not be for you if you didn’t find the statistics modules on your course interesting or you want to see one project through from start to finish. You will spend many months analysing and cleaning data. At NFER you will work on a wide array of different projects meaning you practice and develop certain skills but you won’t necessarily be able to work on every section because projects often take years to complete.

Find out more about the NFER Educational Research Graduate Scheme