(A New) Look to the Future


Friday 18 May 2018

As NFER launches its new branding and website, Chief Executive Carole Willis talks about a renewed drive behind the organisation’s charitable purpose.

After several months of development, I’m pleased to announce that our new branding and website are now live! Those of you who have been through a similar process will recognise the heated debates we have had about colours, fonts, organising principles and the detailed wording of new web pages…   

If you want to know why we’re so excited about these changes, read on.

We’ve been on quite a journey over the last few years, reflecting on our core mission, how we support schools and policy makers with our research, and what our key priorities should be.  We want our work to feed into decision-making more effectively, and to help you improve education and the lives of children and young people.  The launch of our new branding and website signals a fresh approach for NFER.

I joined NFER in 2013 and was immediately struck by the fact that there is so much more to the organisation than I had imagined by observing it from the outside. NFER has been in existence for more than 70 years – no mean feat for a not-for-profit organisation in the education research sector. Like any organisation it has had its ups and downs over the years – mainly driven by the ebb and flow of research funding.  Our success is not just down to what we do, but why we do it.

At the heart of any organisation is its staff. At NFER I am proud to be surrounded by an extremely committed and talented group of professionals, all of whom come to work each day wanting to support a better education system for all children and young people. As a result of this commitment we have built a team with deep knowledge and expertise in the education sector.  We have developed rigorous and innovative research methods and long-standing, trusted relationships with thousands of schools.  This commitment has given us a strong operating model through which to grow the reach and impact of the organisation.

As a not-for-profit organisation any surplus we make is reinvested in our own research programme to provide additional insights into the key education challenges of the day, and to increase our impact and support for practitioners and policy-makers. We do all this to drive the use of high-quality evidence and insights to inform policy decision making. We do it to support teachers and school leaders in understanding what interventions add the most value (and so where to invest their precious funding). We do it so that evidence can play a key role in improving education systems, and improving outcomes for children and young people.  That is enough motivation for anyone.

Our new look and website are about reminding people why we do what we do at NFER. Just because we have been around for some time doesn’t mean that our mission is any less important. As well as a more contemporary look for the organisation we also have a clearer focus. We are aligning all our research activity around the following eight key education challenges, with the objective of further increasing the impact of what we do:

  • Accountability
  • Assessment
  • Classroom Practice
  • Education to Employment
  • Social Mobility
  • School Funding
  • School Workforce
  • Systems and Structures

When you browse our new website you will see that we have a section dedicated to each of these key topic areas.  We will be collating our research activity and wider publications on these topics to make it easier for people to find and access our work. We are also building a new area to provide tailored information for schools around our research findings - because no busy teacher has the time to read through pages and pages of the latest research, no matter how rigorous and high-quality it is. And we are going to be sharing more of our International work with you over the coming months – including a fascinating project in Mozambique, which is part of the Girls Education Challenge.

Critical to us achieving our mission are all of you. We are privileged to work with many of the sector’s leading organisations and inspirational leaders, and we couldn’t do what we do without the engagement and professionalism of the schools who participate in our research.  We look forward to continuing the conversation about evidence based policy and practice with you over the months and years to come.