Apply for the Research Mark

Registration for the research mark is completely free of charge. To proceed, please complete the online registration form to gain access to the secure site. View the Terms and conditions.

Shortly after registering, you will receive a welcome email including your login details. Please visit our secure site and download your welcome pack online. This includes guidance on how to complete your application, a guide for senior leaders, Research Mark school case studies and more.

Click to view the NFER Research Mark privacy policy here.

Apply online

If you would like support in your Research Mark application, please call 01753 637007.

There are eight questions for you to answer online, each addressing a different element of your engagement with research and in enquiry. They reflect the eight statements in the free NFER Self-Review Tool and have been developed by specialists and practitioners.

For each question there is an explanation of what the moderators will be looking for in your answer, and why it is important. There are also examples of the types of evidence you could include to build a good picture of your research practice.

You can save your application as you go along. Your saved answers will be able to be amended and added to each time you log in.

When you are happy with your answers, click ‘submit’. Soon after submitting your application you will receive an invoice of £800 (+VAT).

Part of NFER's charitable purpose is to help build capacity for schools to engaged with research and in enquiry. The £800 application cost covers the administrative cost of the programme, including the moderator’s time.

Host visit from NFER research associate

A member of the NFER team will contact you to arrange a mutually convenient date for the NFER research associate to visit your school, college or early years setting. Ideally this will be within four weeks of your completed application.

The research associate will be with you for approximately half a day. They will have read your application and prepared for the visit. A typical agenda will include:

  • Arrival and introductions
  • Review of evidence provided in application
  • Interview with selected practitioners
  • Break
  • Interview with pupils (accompanied)
  • Interview with headteacher/Principal and other members of SLT
  • Discussion and verbal feedback on application.

The research associate will give recommendations on possible next steps, organisations worth contacting, examples from other schools and advice on sharing findings.

Although you will not be given the result of your application during the visit, you will be left with a clear indication of how you are doing.

Report from NFER

You will be sent an email to tell you when your report is available to download from this secure site. NFER will not share this report with others. Your report will state overall what stage (emerging, established or extended) of research engagement you are working within. Activity that has been done well will be highlighted, as well as recommendations on how to develop further.

Logo and certificate awarded

If you have been successful, you will be sent the NFER Research Mark certificate and logo. We hope you will use this in your publicity to celebrate your achievement. It is valid for three years from the date of issue.


You are welcome to re-apply for the Research Mark any time you feel you can show progress in your research journey (ie you’ve moved from emerging to established, or established to extended). At the end of three years, we hope you will apply for the NFER Research Mark again so that you can continue to celebrate your research achievements.

  • The Research Mark is a means to get recognition for your achievements in research engagement.
    Use your logo and certificate to publicise your effort.
  • It acknowledges your use of research to improve teaching and learning.
    The criteria are all based around improved standards.
  • It includes valuable face-to-face feedback and a report from a professional NFER research associate.
    The consultancy will add value to your plans and you can quote from the report.
  • It develops your practice through shared learning.
    You learn from the work and results others have achieved.
  • It gives structure to your research programme
    Particularly useful if you are a Teaching School, investing in R&D.
  • It presents your school or college as forward thinking and striving for improvement.
    Create the right impression for prospective students and parents.

The NFER Research Mark is open to all education settings in England. This includes:

  • early years settings
  • primary schools
  • secondary schools
  • sixth form colleges
  • FE colleges
  • independent schools
  • free schools
  • special needs schools
  • PRUs.

If you are a Welsh school please contact us for further information.

If you have any questions on this, please call 01753 637007 or email

Official media partners

Oxfam.jpg logo Royal National Lifeboat Institution.jpg logo RSPCA.jpg logo

Supported by

Cancer Research UK.jpg logo British Red Cross.jpg logo British Heart Foundation.jpg logo Together for Short Lives (formerly National Children's Hospices UK).jpg logo The Stroke Association.jpg logo Barnardo's.jpg logo Alzheimer's Society.jpg logo The British Dyslexia Association.jpg logo