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Education and skills

The Education and Skills Programme looks at the cost-effectiveness of different options for delivering education. It also analyses the broader educational environment, including the implications of choice, competition and academisation.

A well-educated and trained workforce is key to economic productivity and to the reduction of social inequality. It is crucial for economic growth that education and skills evolve with the needs of modern labour markets.

Improving educational outcomes for those from disadvantaged backgrounds is a central driver of social mobility. There are many ways to invest in education, a core focus of the programme has been to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of different options for delivering education. For school-related policies this has included analysis of the efficacy of additional expenditure; pedagogical interventions (such as the "literacy hour" of the late 1990s and more recently synthetic phonics); and changing school structures. We have also analysed the broader educational environment, considering, for example, the implications of choice, competition and "academisation" for how students perform at school. A summary of what we have learnt so far is in the book Making a Difference in Education: what the evidence says by Robert Cassen, Sandra McNally and Anna Vignoles. Our research on these issues continues.

How education is delivered is only one factor determining student outcomes. Our programme also researches the causes and consequences of differential access to a good education, often influenced by neighbourhood, location, peers, composition of schools, and the policies and economic forces that shape these.

What of the longer-term effects of educational policies beyond school? We have, along with our Centre for Vocational Education Research worked extensively on linking newly available Department for Education data (eg Longitudinal Education Outcomes data) following students as they move into post-16 education, university and the labour market. Following the paths individuals take through school, further and higher education allows us to understand how the skills delivered by the system affect their labour market opportunities and social mobility.

Education and skills publications

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