One Year, full time to be based in NFER’s main office in Slough
About the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER)
NFER is the UK’s largest independent provider of research, assessment and information services for
education, training and children’s services. We make a difference to learners of all ages, especially to
the lives of children and young people, by ensuring our work improves the practice and
understanding of those who work with and for learners.
The Foundation has a staff of approximately 150, most of whom are based at the Foundation’s
offices which are located in pleasant grounds less than a mile from the centre of Slough.
Communications by road and rail are excellent and there is free parking. There are also two regional
offices – a Welsh office in Swansea and a York office.
There is a strong emphasis on collegiate and team working. The Foundation is committed to the
development of all its staff and has achieved and retained Investors in People status.
Moving forward in a changing environment
NFER’s purpose is to provide independent evidence which improves education and training. As a
charity we are always thinking about ways in which we can achieve this purpose.
NFER is evolving to meet the challenge of a rapidly changing educational and research environment.
We are determined to maintain our leading role in education and children’s services research and to
increase the impact of our work.
We are broadening NFER’s activities to focus more attention on the use of evidence for
improvement, taking a more proactive approach to setting the research agenda for education and
children’s services - identifying the important research questions, seeking funders for the work and
communicating the findings so that they make a real impact on policy and practice. At the same time
we are developing the suite of products and services we offer to schools to help them to gather and
use evidence to improve their pupils’ learning.
For further information you may wish to visit our website: http://www.nfer.ac.uk
Research Operations are responsible for the administrative and data collection aspects of all of
NFER’s extensive range of surveys, data collection and test trialling projects. We also provide
research services directly to external clients. We run a number of panel based and omnibus services
and manage the delivery of NFER’s portfolio of products and services for schools.
We currently have 17 research staff, supported by a team of 13 support and secretarial staff and two
print staff. We also frequently employ additional temporary help to meet the fluctuating demands
of the department. The service is divided into a number of teams, co-ordinated by the Head of
Department. Much of our work focuses on enlisting the co-operation of LAs, schools and other
organisations and individuals in order to secure appropriate samples, collect data and to make all
the arrangements necessary for the smooth running of the various operations.
A researcher in Research Operations would be expected to take responsibility for a number of
projects on behalf the department, ensuring that they are carefully planned, coordinated and
managed within budget and to appropriate quality and within financial constraints. They would be
responsible for ensuring that records of contacts with schools were maintained correctly, they would
organise and administer dispatches and specify and oversee the checking of returned materials
through to delivery to the data capture. Once data is collected in an exercise, researchers are
expected to check and prepare the data using a range of techniques, primarily using SPSS syntax.
Researchers need to be able to forward plan complex exercises and they must be able to
communicate this effectively to others and have the ability to monitor the work on their projects to
ensure that project aims are fully met.
Maintaining positive relationships with schools and others involved in our research is a key aim of
our department. This post includes handling all correspondence and telephone enquiries with
schools or other participating in our research, as well as working for the best possible response
rates. Researchers also need to liaise effectively with colleagues at NFER throughout projects to
establish and ensure that project priorities are clearly identified and met.
The department is responsible for the maintenance of the NFER’s Register of Schools which includes
maintaining records of school involvement in various research projects and monitoring the burden
on individual schools. We are also responsible for drawing samples of schools for research purposes.
Examples of recent projects include:
Making all the arrangements for the trialling and pre-testing of national assessments in English
and mathematics for seven year olds.
Managing the delivery of marking and analysis service of tests for years 3, 4 and 5 pupils
Administering an evaluation survey of teacher and pupils involved in a primary maths initiative
Managing and administering a teacher, pupil and parent suite of omnibus surveys
The strengths of our Department are its flexibility in being able to handle many diverse tasks at the
same time. All our staff enjoy a good variety of work, a supportive atmosphere and training to help
them develop. To fit in with our team, we need people that are adaptable, flexible and keen and
able to learn new skills.
We are looking for a bright, enthusiastic and hard-working person, who has a passion for operational
work and is interested in the world of research and in helping to improve education. You must have
a Degree or equivalent. The work includes considerable use of technology and the ability to see a
logical solution to practical problems and so it is important that we have a person with a Degree with
a significant element of mathematics, statistics, computing or other numerate discipline.
The work includes monitoring and reporting responses and data collection and so the person
appointed must have an eye for detail. The methods and procedures of the Department are mainly
computerised and familiarity with Word and Excel are essential as is experience or aptitude to learn
to use different software and databases. Experience of using SPSS syntax would be desirable.
However, training will be provided in SPSS and other particular packages used, if necessary.
Experience in the interpretation and reporting of statistical data would be a considerable advantage.
As a researcher you would need to coordinate a number of projects, planning and coordinating your
work and the work of the wider team. You will need to have an aptitude for or experience of
coordinating projects. You will also need to be a good communicator with schools and colleagues at
NFER, you will need to be able to write clear, thoughtful and concise correspondence, instructions
We are looking for people who can demonstrate an organisational flair and an awareness of the
importance of accurate and meticulous working methods. You must have a pleasant telephone
manner and an interest in providing a high level of customer care, providing a service for our
departments, clients and participants in our projects.
As most of our work involves schools, a general knowledge of the educational system would be an
Conditions of this Appointment
Placement on the scale will be in accordance with qualifications and experience.
Grade 4 £23,718 - £26,695
Criminal Records Check
This appointment is subject to the requirements of the Foundation’s Disclosure of Criminal Records
Procedures. Researchers will be expected to obtain an enhanced Criminal Records Bureau check;
appointments are subject to receipt of a satisfactory outcome.
All new appointments are subject to a twelve months probationary period.
All appointments are subject to the receipt of satisfactory references.
Candidates are required to declare on application or at interview if, to their knowledge, they are
related to any member of the Foundation's Council or any Foundation employee. Deliberate
failure to make such a disclosure may disqualify candidates and, if the omission is discovered after
appointment, they may be dismissed. Canvassing of members of the Foundation's Council, either
directly or indirectly, shall disqualify candidates.
Employment benefits of working at NFER include:
The Foundation’s leave year runs from 1 April to 31 March; the full time annual leave entitlement is
30 days (two of which are normally required to be taken over the Christmas period). In addition
there are eight Bank Holidays and four discretionary days.
There is free car parking available at the Slough site.
Parents with children are able to purchase Childcare Vouchers through payroll. Further details are
Staff based in Slough are entitled to free casualty and physiotherapy facilities at the local Corporate
Health and Safety Policy
The Foundation recognises and accepts its responsibilities as an employer to provide a safe working
environment for all its employees and its Policy Statement is contained in the Staff Handbook.
Hours of Work
Full-time staff work 35 hours per week which are normally 9:15 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. with one hour for
Learning and Development
The Foundation is a recognised Investor in People (IIP) and is fully committed to training and
developing all its employees and as such its aim is to provide staff with support to enable them to
achieve their potential.
The NFER is a member of the Federated Retirement Savings Plan (NFER Pension Scheme). Staff are
required to contribute a minimum of 5%.
Season Ticket Loans
Season ticket loans are available on the following conditions:
normally for an annual ticket, although a shorter period will be considered
the payment will be made by cheque direct to the provider
loans will be deducted monthly from salary
should a member of staff leave the Foundation, any outstanding balance will be deducted from
their final salary
request for a season ticket loan must be made on the appropriate application form to Finance.
Staff Council provides a forum for staff participation in the Foundation’s decision making process to
the mutual benefit of both the management and its staff.
Subsidised Staff Restaurant
The Staff Restaurant provides a varied menu of snacks, salads and hot meals, including dishes for
Due to the high cost of postage the NFER will acknowledge applications via email where an email
address is provided. If you have not been contacted within two weeks following the closing date
please assume that your application has been unsuccessful on this occasion.
Application forms should be returned no later than Wednesday 1st February 2012.
By email to:
By post to:
Human Resources, NFER, The Mere, Upton Park, Slough, Berkshire, SL1 2DQ.
Further information on the NFER is available on our website at
http://www.nfer.ac.uk/about-nfer/ for additional queries, please contact The HR Office
We look forward to receiving your completed application form