About the NFER Research Mark


The NFER Research Mark recognises the achievements of early years settings, schools and colleges in using research and doing enquiries. A simple, online application process asks for evidence of activity matched against eight criteria. An NFER research associate then visits you to witness the research in action, giving feedback and a report with recommendations on how to use research to improve practice and outcomes for children. The NFER research associate will highlight what stage of research engagement your school is at (emerging, established or extended), and give recommendations on what you could do to reach the next stage.

To apply for the Research Mark, you’ll be asked to build a picture of your research and enquiry practice by answering eight questions:

1) Leadership and vision

How do senior leaders promote research and enquiry as an important feature of school improvement and staff development?

2) Learning and participation

How are research opportunities made available to all members of the school community?

3) Managing resources

How are resources managed to facilitate engagement with high-quality research materials and methods?

4) Setting priorities

How are school improvement priorities identified and addressed through research and enquiry?

5) Rigorous methodology

How rigorous is the enquiry methodology?

6) Impact

How do the outcomes of evidence-informed enquiry impact on the quality of teaching and learner outcomes?

7) Embedding and sustaining

How do successful research and enquiry outcomes get embedded into the ongoing life of the school?

8) Working collaboratively

How does the school participate in, and benefit from, collaborative learning?


These questions link to the statements in the NFER Self-Review Tool. This free online tool helps you to review your school’s stage of engagement and is a good place to start. If you feel your school is established or higher in the tool, then you should consider applying for the Research Mark.

Find out more about how to apply, who can apply and why apply.


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