An end of year message from our Chief Executive, Carole Willis

By Carole Willis

Wednesday 19 December 2018

As we approach 2019, I wanted to thank each and every one of you for your continued interest in and support for NFER.

It’s been an exciting year, with lots of changes and new developments for NFER as we seek to increase the impact of our work on education. I wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on some of our achievements and what we have in store for the New Year.

We launched our new brand and website in the summer, signalling a fresh approach for the Foundation. We wanted to make it easier for you to engage with our research and insights as well as to remind people why we exist – to generate evidence and insights that can improve outcomes for future generations.

"I am very proud of what we have achieved over the last twelve months."

NFER Classroom is one of the exciting new sub brands we unveiled back in June, which feeds into our mission to improve the relevance and impact of NFER’s activities for schools. This includes the new Assessment Hub which brings together information on all aspects of assessment for schools in a digestible and engaging way. 

In the New Year, we will be revealing our new NFER International site, a dedicated space to show case our research for an international audience. We have continued to develop our international business, supporting education systems in other countries - including some important projects designed to improve the quality of education in East Africa.

This brings me on to our eight key topic areas - you will have seen that our new website has a section dedicated to each of them. These cover some of the most important issues in education and will help us to target our expertise and increase the impact of what we do. 

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


You can find out more about our work on each of these topics on the website.  Alongside delivering the second National Reference Test with Ofqual and starting work on developing the DfE’s new Reception Baseline Assessment, I also wanted to highlight our research on teacher supply and accountability.

Teacher supply has been an area of research for NFER over a number of years - we have consistently called for greater attention to be given to teacher retention, not just recruitment, in order to ensure we have enough teachers as pupil numbers increase. In the autumn we published our Nuffield Foundation funded ‘Teacher Supply in England’ report which highlighted the scale of the challenge and makes a number of recommendations for policy and practice. Keep an eye out for more NFER research on the school workforce in early 2019.

Earlier this year I was delighted to be part of the NAHT’s Accountability Commission. To inform the Commission’s work, NFER conducted a review of the evidence on the impact of accountability systems across the world. It is clear that no accountability system is perfect – they all have unintended consequences. However, that should not stop us trying to create a better accountability system. You can read our review of the evidence here.

Alongside our research evidence, our robust educational resources are an integral part of NFER’s activities and another way in which we help to improve education at the classroom level. We have expanded our range of assessments for primary schools to help inform teaching, and launched a free online analysis tool for NFER Test users to help schools interpret and use their data more effectively.

I am very proud of what we have achieved over the last twelve months. Perceptions of NFER’s relevance and impact have improved steadily over the last few years.  It has been a great pleasure to work with all our partners, stakeholders, clients and schools and we look forward to continuing to work with you all in 2019.

Once again, thank you for engaging with our research and resources. 2019 promises to be another important year as we support decision makers across education with our high quality evidence and analysis.

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