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Project description

Thousands of schools in England have cited our research as the reason why they are spending their Pupil Premium and DfE catchup funding on specific interventions to reduce the poverty gap.

Primary participants

Professor Stephen Gorard

Dr Beng Huat See

Dr Nadia Siddiqui

Findings and experience

Six school interventions we evaluated were deemed high security and had positive impacts. These are listed as “promising projects” for schools on the Education Endowment Foundation website, and by the DfE.

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0.24 effect for three evaluations
80% expected reading levels (March 2019), from 20% Dec 2018
4 projects listed as "promising" by EEF
Trebling of school registrations for P4C

The DfE has published guidance for all schools on how to spend the catch-up premium funding for literacy and numeracy (Gov.UK 2014, updated 2019). This includes a document often cited by schools on their own websites (DfE 2018), which references six of our evaluations, summarising our evidence and recommendations, including for: 

  • Switch-on Reading (effect size 0.24) 
  • Philosophy for Children (P4C) (effect size 0.12) 
  • Accelerated Reader (effect size 0.24)  
  • Fresh Start (effect size 0.24) 
  • Future Foundations Summer School (effect size 0.17) 
  • Response to Intervention (effect size 0.20) 

Promising projects

An EEF (2019a) list of “promising projects” is also widely cited by schools. The list of EEF-funded projects which have shown promising results when evaluated, contains four of our evaluations:  

  • Switch On Reading 
  • Philosophy for Children 
  • Children’s University 
  • Accelerated Reader 

The full EEF (2019b) Toolkit also encompasses our reviews and evaluations relevant to Arts Participation, Summer Schools, Parental Involvement, Raising Aspirations, and Enhanced Feedback.  

Both reports are widely cited by schools on their own websites. Across England, thousands of schools have been found with a direct reference to our work on their websites, explaining that our evidence is why they have spent their catch-up/Pupil Premium funding on one of the programmes we evaluated  – e.g. Accelerated Reader, Switch-On Reading, and Philosophy for Children – and suggesting that using this evidence has helped their pupils, especially the lowest attaining/most disadvantaged.  

Examples of children's education books

Positive Results

As examples, Hayle Academy (2019) website says “According to an independent study by… Durham University, Accelerated Reader produces ‘particularly positive results’... I am pleased to say the following students have... received their certificates for reading over a million words since September”. Prescot Primary School (2019) says “[Evidence] taken from the EEF evaluation report 2015... The AR programme has been met with a positive response from teachers and children alike... Children... can talk confidently about the books they have read”. Bellingham Middle School (2019) cited our EEF research in using Accelerated Reader and reported a rise in Pupil Premium pupils reaching expected reading levels from 20% in December 2018 to 80% in March 2019.  

The Accelerated Reading Programme is very active at Hayle Academy, with all Year 7 and Year 8 students participating.

Mr Martin
Headteacher, Hayle Academy

Impact on programme developers

Programme developers have also seen an impact. The national charity developing Philosophy for Children (P4C) in schools reported a huge increase in the number of schools applying for their training following publication of our evaluation in 2015. Bob House (then CEO SAPERE) sent us a graph showing a trebling of school registrations for P4C, and a letter summarising an upturn in both national and international interest in training for P4C. He said “Durham University Evidence Centre for Education findings for the Education Endowment Foundation study into Philosophy for Children, published in July 2015, had a substantial impact on the uptake of the programme”. 

Recognition by the House of Commons Education Committee

We were invited to provided oral evidence to the House of Commons Education Committee, which published our further written evidence, as part of eight other investigations. We provided oral evidence to the EU Commission, Royal Society of Edinburgh, and written evidence to the Scottish Parliament Education and Skills Committee, on the attainment of pupils experiencing poverty. We were invited by the Director General for Social Care, Mobility and Disadvantage at the DfE to discuss our findings on the North:South divide to all staff across England at ‘DfE Live’ 19/11/19. We took part in Evidence Week in Parliament June 2019, speaking to 39 Parliamentarians including the Shadow Minister for Education. On the basis of the work described in this case study, all three authors accepted invitations to join the Cabinet Office “What Works Advice Panel” for civil servants as part of the Prime Minister’s Implementation Unit. We were recognised in the 2018 BERA Impact and Engagement Awards. 

39 Parliamentarians spoken to during Evidence Week June 2019
All 3 authors invited to join Cabinet Office "What Works Advice Panel"