Festival of Education 2018

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Thursday June 21, 2018 - Friday June 22, 2018


Wellington College

Duke's Ride, Crowthorne, Berkshire, RG45 7PU

The Festival of Education, which ran over two days (Thursday 21 June and Friday 22 June), brought together the very best of education’s most forward thinking advocates, practitioners of change, policy makers and teachers at one of the leading forums for thought leadership, CPD and debate. It is also an opportunity to network and discuss topics related to the world of education.

On the first day of the festival, ‘The NFER Debates’ brought together a range of distinguished panelists to discuss the hot topics in education – assessments, technical education, school funding and teacher retention.

More information on ‘The NFER Debates’ is shown below. To find out more about the event, please visit the Festival of Education website.

Session 1 - Do small increases to school budgets make any difference to performance?

Time 11:00-11:40

Despite widespread concerns about the level of school funding, much of the academic literature has struggled to find a significant link between (moderate) changes in school expenditure and changes in pupil outcomes. Moreover, schools (and education systems) with similar levels of funding can achieve very different levels of pupil attainment. Evidence is lacking about the appropriate level of funding for schools, the scope for economies of scale (at a school or MAT level), how funding is best administered and where best to spend limited funds in order to have the greatest impact. At this debate, a leading panel of scholars drew their conclusions as to where the balance of evidence lies on these important issues, with particular attention to the impact of changes to school funding and social mobility in England, including the likely effects of the new National Funding Formula.

Chair - Angela Donkin (NFER)


  • Professor Sandra McNally (LSE)
  • Chris Belfield (IFS)
  • Julia Harnden (ASCL)
  • Matthew Clements-Wheeler (Bordesley Green Girls’ School & Sixth Form)

Session 2 - Innovative approaches to technical education: new and original or just old hard hat?

Time 12:20-13:00

This debate examined different approaches to providing cutting-edge technical education which is central to the development of T levels and the push to increase productivity. The panel debated how innovative these approaches really are and how they can help create world-class technical education that equips young people and employers with the skills necessary for their futures and wider contribution to society and the economy.

Chair - David Sims (NFER) 


  • Helen Beardmore, (Edge)
  • Patrick Craven, (City & Guilds)
  • Tami McCrone (NFER)
  • Jonathan Nicholls (UTC Reading)

Session 3 - Is a lack of assessment literacy putting primary students learning at risk?

Time 14:30-15:10

High-stakes or low-stakes, assessments are how pupils, teachers and schools can track progress and celebrate achievement. However, how they work and what the outcomes mean can often be shrouded in mystery. Is this knowledge gap benign – where teachers lack agency, or is a lack of assessment literacy actually putting young people’s learning at risk? How do we shape and create a shared language and understanding that teachers and pupils alike can use with confidence to discuss assessment in a positive way?

Chair - Liz Twist (NFER)


  • James Bowen (NAHT Edge)
  • Daisy Christodoulou (No More Marking)
  • Cat Scutt (Chartered College of Teaching)
  • Sharon Baker and Nina Perry (Westfield Community School)

Session 4 - How can we encourage more teachers to stay in the profession?

Time 15:20-16:00

With rising pupil numbers and shortfalls in the number of trainee teachers in England, retaining more teachers in the profession is crucial for ensuring every school has the teachers it needs. Every teacher who stays in the classroom means there is one less teacher for schools to recruit. Yet the number of working-age teachers leaving the profession has increased since 2010, making it more difficult for teacher supply to keep up with growing demand. The panel debated how we can best encourage more teachers to stay in the classroom. What policy measures should the Government include in its teacher recruitment and retention strategy? What can school and system leaders do to improve teacher retention?

Chair - Jude Hillary (NFER)


  • Jack Worth (NFER)
  • Vic Goddard (Passmore Academy)
  • Emma Kell, (Teacher and Author)
  • Malcolm Trobe, (ASCL)

 Slides from the debates