Prof Sandra McNally


Professor of Economics
PhD Economics

Academic and research departments

School of Economics, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

Biography

Areas of specialism

Economics of Education

University roles and responsibilities

  • Professor of Economics, University of Surrey
  • Director of the Centre for Vocational Education Research, London School of Economics
  • Director of the Education and Skills Programme, Centre for Economic Performance, London School of Economics

My qualifications

January 2003
PhD in Economics
University College, London
1990 - 1994
MSc in Environmental and Resource Economics
University College, London
1990-1994
BA Mod. in Economics
Trinity College, Dublin

Previous roles

March 2015 - :
Director
Centre for Vocational Education Research, London School of Economics
April 2012 - :
Professor of Economics
School of Economics, University of Surrey
October 2007 - :
Director of the Education and Skills Programme
Centre for Economic Performance, London School of Economics
October 2009 - March 2012
Senior Research Fellow
Centre for Economic Performance, London School of Economics
December 2004 - :
Research Fellow
Centre for Economic Performance, London School of Economics
October 2002 - January 2005
Centre Coordinator
Centre for the Economics of Education
September 2001 - December 2004
Research Officer
Centre for Economic Performance, London School of Economics
September 1995 - August 2001
Economist
Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH), University of Cambridge

Affiliations and memberships

IZA Research Fellow, Institute for the Study of Labor, Bonn (since November 2003)
CESifo, Research Network Fellow. Munich (since November 2009)
Member of ESRC Peer Review College. From March 2010
Co-Editor of the Economics of Education Review. From January 2013.
Member of European Expert Network on Economics of Education (EENEE). (2016- ).
Executive Committee Member for the European Association of Labour Economists (2015- )
Mayor’s Skills for Londoners Stakeholder Advisory Group (2017 - )

News

Media Contacts

Contact the press team

Email:

mediarelations@surrey.ac.uk

Phone: +44 (0)1483 684380 / 688914 / 684378
Out-of-hours: +44 (0)7773 479911
Senate House, University of Surrey
Guildford, Surrey GU2 7XH

Research

Research interests

Indicators of esteem

  • Co-editor of the Economics of Education Review.

My teaching

My publications

Publications

Blanden J, Del Bono E, McNally S, Rabe B (2016) UNIVERSAL PRE-SCHOOL EDUCATION: THE CASE OF PUBLIC FUNDING WITH PRIVATE PROVISION, ECONOMIC JOURNAL 126 (592) pp. 682-723 WILEY-BLACKWELL
McNally S, Telhaj S (2010) The Cost of Social Exclusion,
Chevalier A, Conlon G, Galindo-Rueda F, McNally S (2002) The Returns to Higher Education Teaching,
McNally S (2010) ?The Race Between Education and Technology?, by Claudia Goldin and Lawrence F. Katz, Teachers College Record
Machin S, McNally S, Silva O (2007) New Technology in Schools: Is There a Payoff?, Economic Journal 117 (522) pp. 1145-1167 John Wiley and Sons
Machin S, McNally S, Meghir C (2005) Evaluating Excellence in Cities, CentrePiece
McNally S, Telhaj S (2006) Value of Inclusion,
Gregg P, McNally S, Wadsworth J (2011) Have Reforms to the School System Improved Educational Outcomes?, Oxford University Press
This collection of essays, from leading economic experts on the UK labour market, provides an overview of the key issues concerning the performance of the labour market, and the policy issues surrounding it, with a focus on the recent ...
Holmlund H, McNally S, Viarengo M (2008) Research on the Impact of School Resources on Attainment at Key Stage 2,
Machin S, McNally S, Silva O (2006) New Technology in Schools: Is there a Payoff?, (55)
Gibbons S, McNally S, Viarengo M (2011) Does Additional Spending Help Urban Schools? An Evaluation Using Boundary Discontinuities, (128)
McNally S (2011) The Effects of Education Policy, Britain in 2012 ESRC
Machin S, McNally S (2004) The Impact of the Literacy Hour, Literacy Today 40
McNally S (2006) De quelques politiques efficaces en Angleterre, Press Universitaires de France
Grâce aux contributions des meilleurs spécialistes actuels de la sociologie et des politiques d'éducation, les lecteurs pourront donc découvrir ici les pistes de la recherche pour améliorer l'école, en identifiant les enjeux et défis ...
Machin S, McNally S (2008) Aims for Primary Education: the changing national context, Research Survey 1/3
Holmlund H, McNally S, Viarengo M (2010) Does Money Matter for Schools?, Economics of Education Review 29 (6) pp. 1154-1164 Elsevier Science
Machin S, McNally S, Meghir C (2005) Economic Evaluation of Excellence in Cities,
Holmlund H, McNally S, Viarengo M (2008) Does Money Matter for Schools?, (3769)
Maurin E, McNally S (2005) Children of the Revolution: the economic impact of '1968' in France, CentrePiece
Keslair F, Maurin E, McNally S (2012) Every child matters? An evaluation of "Special Educational Needs" programmes in England, Economics of Education Review 31 (6) pp. 932-948
The need for education to help every child has become more important for policy in the US and the UK. Remedial programmes are often difficult to evaluate because participation is usually based on pupil characteristics that are largely unobservable to the analyst. We evaluate programmes for children with 'Special Educational Needs' in England. We show that the decentralized design of the policy generates much stronger differences across schools in access to remediation resources for children with moderate learning difficulties than for children with either no difficulties or severe difficulties. However, these differences are not reflected in subsequent educational attainment - suggesting that the programme is ineffective for children with moderate learning difficulties. Also, we use demographic variation within schools to consider the effect of the programme on whole year groups. Our analysis is consistent with no overall effect on account of the combined direct and indirect (spillover) effects. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.
Guyon N, Maurin E, McNally S (2010) The Effect of Tracking Students by Ability into Different Schools: a Natural Experiment, (7977)
Maurin E, McNally S (2007) Widening Access to Grammar Schools: The Educational Impact in Northern Ireland, CentrePiece
McNally S (2005) ?The Education Gap: Vouchers and Urban Schools?, by William G. Howell and Peter E. Peterson, with Patrick J. Wolf and David E. Campbell, Education Economics 13 (1) pp. 129-131
McGuigan M, McNally S, Wyness G (2012) Student Awareness of Costs and Benefits of Educational Decisions: Effects of an Information Campaign, (139)
McNally S (2008) Improving Educational Outcome for Poor Children, conference volume
Maurin E, McNally S (2005) Vive la Révolution! Long term returns of 1968 to the angry students, (1504)
Maurin E, McNally S (2005) Vive la Révolution! Long term returns of 1968 to the angry students, (4940)
Guyon N, Maurin E, McNally S (2012) The Effect of Tracking Students by Ability into Different Schools: A Natural Experiment, Journal of Human Resources 47 (3) pp. 684-672 The University of Wisconsin Press
McNally S, Spash CL (2001) Managing pollution, Edward Elgar Pub
McNally is with the Environmental Science and Policy Research Group at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Huntingdon, UK. c. Book News Inc.
Holmlund H, McNally S (2009) Pippi Longstocking?s Promies, The House Magazine
Machin S, McNally S (2005) Gender and Educational Attainment in the UK, Oxford Review of Economic Policy 21 (3) pp. 357-372 Oxford University Press
McNally S (2008) School Education, Centre for Longitudinal Studies, Institute of Education
McNally S (2005) Reforms to Schooling in the UK: A Review of Some Major Reforms and their Evaluation, German Economic Review 6 (3) pp. 287-296 John Wiley and Sons
Emmerson C, Frayne C, McNally S, Pelkonen P (2004) Economic Evaluation of Excellence in Primary Schools,
Machin S, McNally S (2005) Differential gender attainment at the end of compulsory schooling and beyond,
Hussain I, McNally S, Telhaj S (2008) University Quality and Graduate Wages in the UK,
Machin S, McNally S (2004) Large Benefits, Low Cost, CentrePiece
Golden S, Kendall L, Machin S, McNally S, Meghir C, Morris M, Noden P, O'Donnell L, Ridley K, Rutt S, Schagen I, Stoney S, West A (2005) Excellence in Cities. The National Evaluation of a policy to raise standards in urban schools 2000-2003, RR675B
Machin S, McNally S, Meghir C (2004) Improving Pupil Performance in English Secondary Schools: Excellence in Cities, Journal of the European Economics Association 2 (2-3) pp. 396-405 Wiley Blackwell
Holmlund H, McNally S (2009) A Swedish Model for UK Schools?, CentrePiece 14 (3)
Cornaglia F, Crivellaro E, McNally S (2012) Mental Health and Education Decisions, (136)
Geay C, McNally S, Telhaj S (2013) Non-native Speakers of English in the Classroom: What are the Effects on Pupil Performance?, Economic Journal John Wiley and Sons
Maurin E, McNally S (2005) Vive la Révolution! Long term returns of 1968 to the angry students, (49)
Maurin E, McNally S (2008) Vive la Révolution! Long term educational returns from 1968 to the angry students, Journal of Labor Economics 26 (1) pp. 1-35 University of Chicago Press
Hussain I, McNally S, Telhaj S (2008) Are the Top Universities Worth Paying For?, CentrePiece
McNally S, Wolf A (2011) Education and Economic Performance, Edward Elgar Publishing
This collection, with an original introduction by the editors, will be of great interest to academics and students interested in growth, productivity, innovation and economic performance.
Hussain I, McNally S, Telhaj S (2009) University Quality and Graduate Wages in the UK, (4043)
Hussain I, McNally S, Telhaj S (2009) University Quality and Graduate Wages in the UK, (99)
Machin S, McNally S, Silva O (2006) New Technology in Schools: Is there a Payoff?, (2234)
Machin S, McNally S (2004) The Literacy Hour, (1005)
Geay C, McNally S, Telhaj S (2012) Non-Native Speakers of English in the Classroom: What are the Effects on Pupil Performance?, (137)
Keslair F, McNally S (2009) Special Educational Needs in England,
Machin S, McNally S (2005) Education and Child Poverty,
McNally S (2005) Economic Evaluation of the Pupil Learning Credits Pilot Scheme, RR696
Machin S, McNally S, Meghir C (2007) Resources and Standards in Urban Schools, (76)
Machin S, McNally S (2004) The Literacy Hour, (43)
McNally S, Meghir C (2009) Economic Adviser for the Money Guidance Pathfinder Evaluation,
McNally S (2010) Election Analysis. Evaluating Education Policies: The Evidence from Economic Research, Centre for Economic Performance LSE
Machin S, McNally S (2008) The Literacy Hour, Journal of Public Economics 92 pp. 1141-1462 Elsevier Science
Machin S, McNally S (2012) The Evaluation of English Education Policies, National Institute Economic Review 219 (1) pp. R15-R25 Sage Publications
Braun A, Hind A, McNally S, Noden P, West A (2005) Final Report of the Evaluation of the Pupil Learning Credits Pilot Scheme, RR687
Emmerson C, Frayne C, McNally S, Silva O (2006) An Economic Evaluation of the Early Impact of Aimhigher: Excellence Challenge on Pre-16 Outcomes,
McNally S, Geay C, Telhaj S (2013) ?Non-native Speakers of English in the Classroom: What are the effects on pupil performance??, The Economic Journal 123 (570) pp. F281-F307
Machin S, McNally S, Rajagopalan S (2004) The Enterprise Works Concept Development,
Emmerson C, Frayne C, McNally S, Silva O (2006) Aimhigher: Excellence Challenge: A Policy Evaluation using the Labour Force Survey,
McNally S (2006) ?The Economics of Education: Human Capital, Family Background and Inequality,? by
Daniele Checchi,
Economica 75 (298) pp. 398-399
McNally S (2011) England v Wales: Education Performance and Accountability, Better: Evidence-based Education pp. 22-23 University of York
Challen A, King D, Knapp M, McNally S (2008) Economic Modeling for Foresight Project: Mental Capital and Wellbeing,
Machin S, McNally S, Meghir C (2007) Resources and Standards in Urban Schools, (2653)
Emmerson C, McNally S, Meghir C (2005) Economic Evaluation of Education Initiatives, Princeton University Press
Machin S, McNally S (2007) Tertiary Education Systems and Labour Markets,
McNally S (2007) Higher Education and the Labour Market,
Machin S, McNally S, Meghir C (2010) Resources and Standards in Urban Schools, Journal of Human Capital 4 (4) pp. 365-393 University of Chicago Press
McNally S (2008) Information, Advice and Guidance. A brief literature review,
Eyles A, Machin S, McNally S (2017) Unexpected school reform: Academisation of primary schools in England, Journal of Public Economics 155 pp. 108-121 Elsevier
The UK change of government in 2010 provoked a large structural change in the English education landscape. Unexpectedly, the new government offered primary schools the chance to have ?the freedom and the power to take control of their own destiny?, with better performing schools given a green light to fast track convert to become an academy school. In England, schools that become academies have more freedom over many ways in which they operate, including curriculum design, budgets, staffing issues and the shape of the academic year. However, the change to allow primary school academisation has been controversial. This paper reports estimates of the causal effect of academy enrolment on primary school pupils. While the international literature provides growing evidence on the effect of school autonomy in a variety of contexts, little is known about the effect of autonomy on primary schools (which are typically much smaller than secondary schools) and in contexts where the converting school is not deemed to be failing or disadvantaged. The key findings are that English primary schools did change their mode of operation after the exogenous policy change, utilising more autonomy and changing spending behaviour, but this did not lead to improved pupil performance.
Hupkau C, McNally S, Ruiz-Valenzuela J, Ventura G (2017) Post-Compulsory Education in England: Choices and Implications, National Institute Economic Review 240 (1) pp. R42-R57 Sage Publications
Most students do not follow the ?academic track? (i.e. A-levels) after leaving school and only about a third of students go to university before the age of 20. Yet progression routes for the majority that do not take this path but opt for vocational post-compulsory education are not as well-known, which partly has to do with the complexity of the vocational education system and the difficulty of deciphering available data. If we are to tackle long-standing problems of low social mobility and a long tail of underachievers, it is essential that post-16 vocational options come under proper scrutiny. This paper is a step in that direction.

We use linked administrative data to track decisions made by all students in England who left compulsory education after having undertaken the national examination -the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE)- at age 16 in the year 2009/10. We track them up to the age of 21, as they progress through the education system and (for some) into the labour market. We categorise the many different types of post-16 qualifications into several broad categories and we look at the probability of achieving various educational and early labour market outcomes, conditional on the path chosen at age 17. We also take into account the influence of demographics, prior attainment and the secondary school attended. Our findings illustrate the strong inequality apparently generated by routes chosen at age 17, even whilst controlling for prior attainment and schooling up to that point.

McGuigan M, McNally S, Wyness G (2016) Student Awareness of Costs and Benefits of Educational Decisions: Effects of an Information Campaign, Journal of Human Capital 10 (4) pp. 482-519 University of Chicago Press
Many students appear to leave full-time education too soon, despite the possibility of high returns from further investment in their education. One contributory factor may be insufficient information about the potential consequences of their choices. We investigate students? receptiveness to an information campaign about the costs and benefits of pursuing postcompulsory education. Our results show that students with higher expected net benefits from accessing information are more likely to avail themselves of the opportunity presented by our experiment. Their intention to stay on in post-16 education is strongly affected by the experiment, though not their intention to apply to university. Effects are heterogeneous by family background and gender.
Eyles A, Machin S, McNally S (2016) Unexpected School Reform: Academisation of Primary Schools in England, Centre for Economic Performance (CEP)
The change of government in 2010 provoked a large structural change in the English education landscape. Unexpectedly, the new government offered primary schools the chance to have ?the freedom and the power to take control of their own destiny?, with better performing schools given a green light to convert to become an academy school on a fast track. In England, schools that become academies have more freedom over many ways in which they operate, including the curriculum, staff pay, the length of the school day and the shape of the academic year. However, the change to allow primary school academisation has been controversial. In this paper, we study the effect for the first primary schools that became academies. While the international literature provides growing evidence on the effects of school autonomy in a variety of contexts, little is known about the effects of autonomy on primary schools (which are typically much smaller than secondary schools) and in contexts where the school is not deemed to be failing or disadvantaged. The key finding is that schools did change their modes of operation after the exogenous policy change, but at the primary phase of schooling, academisation did not lead to improved pupil performance.
Gibbons S, McNally S, Viarengo M (2017) Does Additional Spending Help Urban Schools? An Evaluation Using Boundary Discontinuities, Journal of the European Economic Association Oxford University Press
This study exploits spatial anomalies in school funding policy in England to provide new evidence on the impact of resources on student achievement in urban areas. Anomalies arise because the funding allocated to Local Education Authorities (LEA) depends, through a funding formula, on the ?additional educational needs? of its population and prices in the district. However, the money each school receives from its LEA is not necessarily related to the school?s own specific local conditions and constraints. This implies that neighbouring schools with similar intakes, operating in the same labour market, facing similar prices, but in different LEAs, can receive very different incomes. We find that these funding disparities give rise to sizeable differences in pupil attainment in national tests at the end of primary school, showing that school resources have an important role to play in improving educational attainment, especially for lower socio-economic groups. The design is geographical boundary discontinuity design which compares neighbouring schools, matched on a proxy for additional educational needs of its students (free school meal entitlement ? FSM), in adjacent districts. The key identification requirement is one of conditional ignorability of the level of LEA grant, where conditioning is on geographical location of schools and their proportion of FSM children.
Machin S, McNally S, Viarengo M (2018) Changing How Literacy Is Taught: Evidence on Synthetic Phonics, American Economic Journal: Economic Policy 10 (2) pp. 217-241 The American Economic Association
A significant number of people have very low levels of literacy in
many OECD countries. This paper studies a national change in
policy and practice in England that refocused the teaching of reading
around ?synthetic phonics.? This was a low-cost intervention that
targeted the pedagogy of existing teachers. We evaluate the pilot and
first phase of the national rollout. While strong initial effects tend
to fade out on average, they persist for those with children with a
higher initial propensity to struggle with reading. As a result, this
program helped narrow the gap between disadvantaged pupils and
other groups.