Welcome to Civitas Education Research
Our research seeks out an objective view of standards of education in Britain. By doing so, we aim to offer an improved perspective on how best to deliver equitable and high standards of education for all.
We aim in particular to generate evidence-based policy, with realisable strategies for implementation. This includes a commitment to giving parents greater control over how government invests in their child's education, as well as supporting independent teaching combined with a flexible curriculum.
This complements the practical education projects we run: Civitas Schools, for children who want out-of-hours support but do not have access to expensive private tuition, and Core Knowledge UK, our curriculum project which is being developed in partnership with a number of English primary schools.
Latest: Prisoners of The Blob - Toby Young
Latest: Ofsted vs English education - David Green, The Spectator
Latest: Time to revise our opinion of free schools - Robert Peal, IB Times
Ofsted: Call for Evidence
Many celebrated the admirable stand made by Sir Michael Wilshaw in ordering Ofsted inspectors no longer to criticise schools or individual teachers for their teaching style. However, there is uncertainty about whether individual inspectors are taking this message on board. We would like to hear from teachers and senior leaders who have been inspected after the Subsidiary Guidance was updated on 23 December 2013. More detail here.
Books and Pamphlets
Progressively Worse: The burden of bad ideas
in British schools
Since 1953, education spending in Britain has increased by nine times in real terms but levels of numeracy and literacy among school leavers have hardly changed. In this historical analysis, Robert Peal argues that this abject record in educating our children cannot be detached from a movement which took hold in British state schools during the 1960s and has been called, with deep inappropriateness, 'progressive education'. This movement is based upon a romantic view of the child. It believes that children are both innately well-behaved and natural learners, who should be freed from the guidance and direct instruction of the teacher. Read More
"One of the brightest young voices in the education debate" - Michael Gove
Prisoners of The Blob: Why most education experts
are wrong about nearly everything
What is "The Blob" and what has a 1950s sci-fi movie got to do with education policy? In this hard-hitting pamphlet, the journalist and free school founder Toby Young explains how the education establishment has been sucked into a thoughtworld which will not permit reasonable discussion of the best ways to school our children. The adherence of teaching unions, local education authorities and academic "experts" to so-called progressive classroom techniques is so fanatical that they ignore a huge body of empirical evidence and the findings of cognitive scientists that point to the need for a more disciplined, teacher-led and knowledge-rich approach. Read More
"Excellent... What Young shows is that for decades the people in the educational establishment – professors, school inspectors, teachers – who were supposed to be guarding our children’s academic interests have instead betrayed them horribly by insisting that schools use 'teaching' methods that don’t actually work" - James Delingpole
Boxing Clever is Tom Ogg’s account of teaching teenagers who had been expelled from school at the London Boxing Academy Community Project (LBACP) in Tottenham, North London. The aim of the project was to make use of the strong relationships that boxing coaches have with wayward young men.
"The prose is strong, the story compelling and the political implications profound... Tom Ogg has made a significant contribution. - Lord Glasman (Foreword)
"...a vivid and moving portrait of South Tottenham and this very special school" - Nick Redgrove, Standpoint
Inspecting the Inspectorate: Ofsted under scrutiny
Today's cheap, short and 'sharp' inspection is by definition restricted to a superficial one-size-fits-all snapshot of school provision. Ofsted's tick-box criteria, drop-in mentality and frequently poorly-trained inspectors prevent the inspectorate from truly gauging the quality of schools. This collection of essays by educational insiders, including a practising Ofsted inspector, sets out the weaknesses in the current school inspection regime - and the changes urgently required if Ofsted is to contribute to raising educational standards.
"I don't like having to agree... but Civitas is absolutely right." - Chris Woodhead
Swedish Lessons: How schools with more freedom
can deliver better education
What we can learn from the experience of Sweden, a country with strong egalitarian values that has successfully incorporated the mechanism of choice into its educational provision?
"As a primer for serious debate, it really is one of the best and more thought-provoking pieces of work you’ll read in a very long time." - Sunny Hundal, Liberal Conspiracy
The Corruption of the Curriculum
Subjects in the school curriculum used to be regarded as discrete areas of knowledge which would be imparted to pupils by teachers motivated by a love of learning. The contributors to this book argue that we need to return to the traditional view of education as a means of transmitting a body of knowledge from one generation to the next, and that academic rigour and respect for the professionalism of teachers should take precedence over political manipulation of the curriculum.
"...[a] devastating critique of the curriculum..." - Nick Gibb MP
Inspection, Inspection, Inspection! How Ofsted
crushes independent schools and independent
Since 2003 Ofsted has been tasked with inspecting many independent schools. Although private schools are theoretically free to devise their own curriculum and teaching methods, Ofsted can and does pressure these schools into conforming to a standardised template. Looking into the way independent schools inspected by Ofsted are penalised for operating outside the Ofsted box, Inspection, Inspection, Inspection exposes the inspectorate's inability to truly gauge quality and the perverse resultant consequences, from fabricated paper trails to in some cases a lowering of the standard of provision.
Articles for the Media
Amoeba that fosters the great class divide in schools
Ofsted vs English education
Time to revise our opinion of free schools
Michael Gove’s planned national curriculum is designed to renew teaching as a vocation
Michael Gove’s critics are afraid of change
When boxing meets education: teaching experiences in alternative provision
Should A-level exam resits be banned? Yes
Resits undermine A-level standards
There is no doubt that Sats are deeply pernicious, but it is not fair to identify testing as the problem
The licence of academies
Is academy school success just a sham?
Turning the tables on education
A gender gap at 5 - so what?
Stop Twittering, learn Latin
Reports and Briefings
A New Secret Garden?
Alternative provision, exclusion and children's rights
The secrets of Academies' success
Is the freedom being granted to Academies being abused?
Straight A's? A-level teachers' views on today's A-levels
Senior A-level teachers explain the rise in A grades.
Education in England: Policy vs. Impact
How is the government doing in education?
Media Info: Increase in Infant Classes Over 30
The issues with the rise in infant class sizes.
ANALYSIS: The English Bacc
ANALYSIS: The Budget's Implications for Education (PDF)
ANALYSIS: The Other Half - of students
ANALYSIS: The unlikely losers of decentralisation
ANALYSIS: Looking to the TV debates
EDUCATION: The Pre-Election Briefing
As an independent think tank, Civitas receives no funding from either the government or political parties. All of our work is funded by private donors who value our research and educational activities. If you like our work please consider making a contribution to help it continue.
Keep up to Date
To stay abreast of our latest work, sign up for free email updates here.