Leaving and learning: should we raise the school leaving age?

Sarah Womack 150Sarah Womack is a former political and social affairs correspondent of the Daily Telegraph. Here she asks – should pupils stay in school until the age of 19?

This month (April 2017) marks the 70th anniversary of one of the UK’s most significant social reforms, but you probably couldn’t guess what it is. In 1947, when the school leaving age was raised from 14 to 15 – and, for the first time, there was secondary education for all – critics claimed there were not enough buildings or teachers to cope, and pupils would truant, leading to a crime wave. But serious revolt didn’t happen, and, 25 years later, the leaving age rose again to 16 – and, in 2013-15, participation in education or training was raised to 17, then 18. Continue reading

How English care homes have coped with the National Living Wage

Giulia Giupponi 150Giulia Giupponi is an ESRC-funded PhD student at the London School of Economics and a research assistant at the Centre for Economic Performance.

Steve Machin 150Stephen Machin is Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics and Director of the Centre for Economic Performance.

They have been advising the Low Pay Commission on the impact of the National Living Wage on English care homes.

On 1 April, all five UK minimum wage rates were increased (PDF), a year on from introduction of the National Living Wage (NLW) for workers aged 25 and over with a rate of £7.20 an hour. Rates for younger workers remained at the level of the existing National Minimum Wage (NMW). The NLW is set to achieve the 2020 target of 60 per cent of median earnings. Given the scale of the change – a 7.5 per cent increase at the time of the NLW introduction (PDF) – and the ambitious target set for 2020, a natural question is the impact on employment and other margins of adjustment by firms. Continue reading

What happens when we don’t have good data?

Amy-Sippitt 150.fwAmy Sippitt is Full Fact‘s research and impact manager. She runs a team of fact-checkers, and promotes high-quality research into the impact of fact-checking and the misinformation ecosystem.

The Need to Know project was launched in February to anticipate and plan for what information is needed for upcoming public decisions. Here Amy — who co-ordinates the project — explains more about what the project hopes to achieve.

Experts can and do work together to call out spurious factual claims and argument. But they also play a big role in laying the groundwork for debate. This starts with attempting to predict the big debates that will be happening in five years’ time, and producing information to inform these debates before things get too heated for the information to be heard.

This is exactly what the Need to Know project is about — a joint project between Full Fact, the Economic and Social Research Council, the UK Statistics Authority, and the House of Commons Library. Continue reading

The importance of voluntary sector research

Dan Corry is Chief Executive of charity think tank and consultancy NPC, following a varied career in public policy and economics. He was a member of the ESRC’s Research Committee until September 2016.

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I have recently finished a four-year stint as a member of the ESRC Research Committee. Although much of the time my skills as an economist and former policymaker were the most useful in helping the work of the committee, I was really there to try and represent the voluntary sector and see if we could get more research about the way civil society works funded, carried out and communicated. Continue reading

How can education and skills work for the many?

Raj Patel is Impact Fellow and Acting Director of the Understanding Society Policy Unit at the University of Essex. Here he discusses the latest issues facing the education and skills sector, ahead of an education debate to be hosted this week by Understanding Society as part of the Festival of Social Science.

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Education transforms lives. So how successful are education and skills policies in the UK and how can they be improved? This question is becoming more complex to understand and answer in an era of mass education and diverse institutions, with patterns of participation, attainment and outcomes highly heterogeneous. Education of course does not exist as an island. Factors such as gender, ethnicity, disability, parental background, family lives, mental health and wellbeing, resources and geography have to be examined forensically to determine what predictive role they play in driving up or dampening attainment and outcomes. Continue reading