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Education

Education has the power to transform people’s lives. We want every young person in the UK to have the best possible education outcomes and to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to thrive in our society. We fund research to inform and drive the change needed to make this happen.

£5.7m

Given in grants for education projects in 2018.

89

Education projects are currently underway, worth a total of £14.5m.

Our goal is to find ways to improve educational outcomes through policy change and interventions that are grounded in robust evidence.

We fund research and development projects relating to education across all life stages – from early years through school, to further and higher education and vocational learning. We want to understand young people’s pathways as they move through these stages, and how they acquire skills and capabilities.

Many young people are disadvantaged in the education system, by factors such as special educational needs, disability, socio-economic background and location. Through the research we fund, we help to understand and address these disadvantages. We also aim to improve the quality of teaching and learning, and to understand and support teachers.

We recognise that education is not just what happens in the classroom – we also want to understand the wider influences on people’s education and chances in life, such as the role of families and informal learning.

 

Why education needs research


  • By the end of primary school, children from low-income families are 9.4 months behind on average – a gap that grows to 18.4 months by the time they leave secondary education. Our research helps identify ways this gap can be reduced.

  • An estimated extra 47,000 secondary and 8,000 primary teachers will be needed by 2024, just to maintain current pupil: teacher ratios. On average that’s an additional 11 teachers needed in every secondary school. Our research helps understand the challenges for recruiting and retaining teachers and how they might be better supported.

  • The number of pupils with special educational needs (SEN) has increased for a third consecutive year to 1,318,300 in January 2019, representing 14.9% of the total pupil population. We need research to understand the educational needs of this population and the most effective ways to meet them.

What do we fund in education?


We are currently funding research, development and analysis projects, with a focus on:

  • Skills and capabilities that equip children and young people for life and work, both within and beyond educational institutions.
  • Teaching quality, particularly projects that improve practice through evidence-based interventions and those that harness digital technologies to improve teaching, learning, parental engagement and child development.
  • Young people’s pathways, with an increased focus on young people following non-HE routes.
  • Educational disadvantage, including special educational needs, physical disabilities, mental health issues, socio-economic disadvantage, geographical disadvantage and looked after children.
  • Direct interventions that improve young people’s lives and align with the four priorities identified above and which are grounded in evidence.

Our team


  • Eleanor Ireland
    Programme Head, Education
  • Cheryl Lloyd
    Programme Head, Education
  • Programme Head, Education
  • Carey Oppenheim
    Cross Cutting Project Lead, Early Childhood

  • Director, Education
Our impact in education
See our impact
01

Children around the UK are improving their oral language skills through the Nuffield Early Language Intervention, which has been shown through rigorous and largescale trials to improve learning and attainment for four- and five-year-olds.

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02

For the first time, we have comprehensive analysis of how public expenditure on education – around £90 billion – is targeted at different stages of education, how it has changed over time, and what is driving those changes. In 2018, this annual analysis from the IFS revealed an 8% fall in real terms spending on schools, leading to increased pressure on the government to take action, which it did in August 2019.

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03

There are new opportunities for post-16 students to study maths after GCSE due to the development of Core Maths and additional government investment in maths education. These policy changes were driven in part by our research showing the relatively low levels of young people are studying maths after the age of 16.

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See our impact

Education projects

In progress

Education | 2019 – 2021

Post-16 pathways: the role of peers, family background and expectations

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In progress

Education | 2019 – 2021

Exploring the impact of curriculum policy on choice, attainment and destinations

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In progress

Education | 2019 – 2022

The SWAN game-based approach to learning foundational number language

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In progress

Education | 2019 – 2020

Education priorities in a forthcoming general election

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In progress

Education | 2019 – 2021

Family Nurse Partnership: what works in England and Germany

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In progress

Education | 2019 – 2021

‘Intractable’ schools: can an Ofsted judgment prevent sustainable improvement?

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In progress

Education | 2019 – 2021

Digital skills in apprenticeships

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In progress

Education | Welfare | 2019 – 2022

Contemporary fathers in the UK

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In progress

Education | 2019 – 2021

Using catchment areas to estimate school effectiveness

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In progress

Education | Welfare | 2019 – 2021

The health of teachers in England over the past 25 years

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In progress

Education | 2019 – 2021

Book language: promoting literacy and oracy in the early years

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In progress

Education | 2019 – 2020

Empowering staff to enhance oral language in the early years

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Spend your summer holiday enhancing your university application and career prospects on a Nuffield Research Placement.

Q-Step is a major strategic programme designed to promote a step-change in quantitative social science education and training.

We aim to improve people’s lives by funding research that informs social policy, primarily in Education, Welfare and Justice. We also fund student programmes that give young people skills and confidence in science and research.

We are an open, collaborative and engaged funder that offers more than money. Through connecting the individual projects we fund, we strengthen their collective impact and give voice to an overarching narrative.

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