Better Schools for All? School effectiveness and the impact on pupils

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Summary & aims

There is a perception that there is huge variance in pupil attainment across schools, even on ‘value added’ measures accounting for the quality of the pupil intake. Attainment in many schools is deemed unacceptable by parents and appears low by international standards, leading the government to embark on a large-scale overhaul of education in England with an emphasis on increasing school autonomy, devolving pay setting and resource management to schools, in the expectation that this, coupled with a more rigorous inspection regime, will deliver improved results across all schools. This project, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, seeks to better understand the nature and determinants of school “effectiveness”.


By linking data from the School Workforce Census to data on pupil attainment from the National Pupil Database, together with Consistent Financial Reporting returns, school inspection data from Ofsted; and also linking the above to schools in the Workplace Employment Relations Survey, this study will establish how much of the variance in pupil attainment in England is related to school effectiveness. The project is exploring the school level traits, such as staffing, resourcing and governance that are linked to school effectiveness, and how these are changing over time. We also examine which of these traits appear most salient in improving outcomes for pupils both at the average and for disadvantaged pupils towards the bottom of the attainment distribution.

Timescale and funder

This project is funded by the Nuffield Foundation. It began in May 2015 and will be completed in summer 2019.

Further details are available from the project page on the Nuffield Foundation website.

You can now download the report here