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.

Books and Pamphlets

  • The Ins and Outs of Selective Secondary
    Schools: A Debate

    - edited by Anastasia de Waal, March 2015

    Should secondary schools be allowed to select, and if so, on what basis? These questions have long been a battleground of the English education system and have too often yielded answers that reduce the issue to oversimplified dichotomies. This collection gathers together a diverse range of key thinkers to evaluate the modern scope of secondary school selection in all its evolving complexity – including by ability, fee, faith and stealth. Read More

  • Progressively Worse: The burden of bad ideas
    in British schools

    - Robert Peal, April 28, 2014

    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

    "Shows the damage wreaked on children by trendy educationists over many decades" - Simon Heffer, Daily Mail

    "Explains how our school system has got to where it is... deserves very serious attention" - Chris McGovern, Campaign for Real Education

  • Prisoners of The Blob: Why most education experts
    are wrong about nearly everything

    - Toby Young, April 2014

    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

    - Tom Ogg, September 2012

    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

  • Liberal Education and the National Curriculum

    - David Conway, January 2010

    Professor David Conway traces the history of proposed school curricula from the liberal reformers of the 1860s to modern times. All children, whatever their backgrounds, should be introduced to 'the best that has been thought and said'.

  • From Two Cultures to No Culture:
    C. P. Snow's 'Two Cultures' Lecture Fifty Years On

    - Edited by Robert Whelan, March 2009

    In 1959, C.P. Snow delivered his 'Two Cultures' lecture. Snow warned of a gap that had opened up between scientists and literary intellectuals. The latter were not only ignorant of science, but contemptuous of it - as if scientific knowledge were unnecessary for a good education. The problems that now characterise our education system are no respecters of subject boundaries. This collection of lively and timely essays examines the relevance of Snow's argument to the current education debate and whether anything can be done to fix the decline in educational standards and attainment. Read More

  • Inspecting the Inspectorate: Ofsted under scrutiny

    - Anastasia de Waal (ed.), November 2008

    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

    - Nick Cowen, June 2008

    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

    - Robert Whelan (ed.), June 2007

    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

    - Anastasia de Waal, 2006

    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

Reports and Briefings