Funding FAQs

Funding FAQs

What outcomes do EEF projects need to achieve?

We want to fund projects that have a clear focus on raising attainment or another related, tangible goal. We recognise there are many different factors which impact on attainment but applicants must be able to establish a clear link between their project and attainment itself. We will always measure, and hope to see improvements in, attainment outcomes (such as GCSE points, or standardised tests of literacy).

What types of project will the EEF fund?

The EEF will fund, develop and evaluate cost effective and replicable projects which address educational disadvantage. In the first instance we expect to fund projects run by schools and other not for profit organisations that fulfill at least one of the below criteria:

1. There is already some evidence, for example from a pilot, that the approach or intervention is likely to have a positive impact on academic outcomes. This could be evidence directly related to the intervention or evidence that comes from the wider literature.

2. The approach or intervention has been tested as a robust trial, but is now ready to be tested in a new delivery model or context. This could involve testing an approach that has not been used in English schools, or delivering an intervention at a larger scale and adopting a more scalable approach, for example not directly involving the developer.

3. The approach or intervention is already in widespread use throughout English schools, and there is a compelling theory as to why it should impact on academic attainment, but has not been robustly evaluated or its impact on disadvantaged pupils has not been previously tested.

This could be a particular programme or a more general approach. It is important however that there is a clear hypothesis that is being tested (e.g. “Does this additional intervention lead to better maths outcomes for disadvantaged pupils?” or “Does this method of developing teachers’ classroom strategies lead to more effective teaching and learning, and therefore improved pupil attainment?”). It is also important that it is an approach that could be replicated more widely without further EEF funding.

Please see our Projects page for examples of projects that we have already funded. Our applicant case studies provide an example of how applicants’ proposals are developed into these final projects.The EEF is not intended to replace funding lost from other sources or to enable the continuation or straightforward expansion of established programmes.

What kind of organisation can the EEF fund?

The EEF can only provide grants to not-for-profit organisations such as schools, charities, local authorities, universities, social enterprises and community interest companies. In some cases, for-profit companies may be involved as partners or suppliers to the main grantee. In such cases, EEF may conduct additional due diligence to ensure that our funding is being used for public benefit and meets our objectives.

What can the funding be used for?

The EEF funds projects so that they can be developed, delivered and evaluated in a robust manner. We also look for projects that could, if effective, be easily taken up by other schools. What this funding covers will vary from project to project. For example, for early stage ideas, it could include some development costs to ensure that the delivery model is robust enough to be ready to be tested in a large number of schools. In projects built around more developed programmes, our funding might focus on the recruitment and management of the programme – the costs of actual delivery might be expected to be funded by schools themselves to ensure that there is appetite from schools.

At the initial application stage, we request that applicants provide an estimated budget, but this often changes substantially as we work with successful applicants to develop the project proposal.

The EEF is not able to provide funding for capital only projects (e.g. building a new classroom). However, in the context of a project clearly and directly linked to boosting attainment, some capital expenses can be covered.

What is meant by 'disciplined innovation'?

EEF funds are intended to support 'disciplined innovation'. This means we will prioritise innovative projects that build on either robust evidence or some compelling educational theory or logic. This might mean projects that take a proven approach and extend it in some way - for example, by testing a new delivery model, applying it in a new context or incorporating new pedagogical elements. Alternatively, it might mean projects that aim to deepen and secure the evidence for interventions that have shown promise but are not fully proven. Finally, it may on occasion involve trialing an entirely new and innovative approach, provided it tackles a clear defined problem with a logical and compelling strategy. We would be most likely to fund projects meeting this final definition if there is existing interest from schools in the approach, e.g. if it is an intervention that is widely thought to be effective but has not been robustly evaluated.

What is meant by 'robust evaluation'?

Robust evidence is crucial for helping schools to understand whether an approach is truly effective or not. This means evidence that an approach helped to raise attainment levels beyond what would have been expected otherwise. The most robust way of estimating ‘what would have happened without the intervention’ is through a randomised controlled trial (RCT). This involves recruiting a group of potential participants (eg, pupils, or schools), and randomly assigning which receive the treatment and which do not, and measuring the outcomes of both groups. This provides an estimate of the impact of both groups that is unbiased­ – through randomisation, both groups are likely to have similar distributions of other characteristics that can affect the outcome. Without this, it could always be argued that the group participating in the project were in some way different to those who did not.

We do not expect applicants to have undertaken anRCT on their own programme. However, we would expect them to understand how their approach relates to the available evidence. Evidence that is based on a number of high quality randomised controlled trials, or other robust studies, is the highest form of evidence. The Sutton Trust-EEF Teaching and Learning Toolkit is based on this ‘meta-analytic’ approach and is a useful starting point.

Explaining how an approach applies existing evidence is often more convincing than the use of small-scale, biased data. For example, if a project reports that it has been working in three schools and the pupils involved made higher than nationally expected levels of progress, this is not sufficient for us to believe that it is the intervention itself which made the difference, particularly if the wider evidence suggests that it is not a successful approach.

Please see the Evaluation section of our website for more information about our approach to evaluation.

Which schools and pupils should projects target?

The EEF aims to fund projects that will help to raise the academic outcomes of disadvantaged pupils. By this, we typically mean pupils eligible for pupil premium funding. We would therefore expect applicants to be willing to work in mainstream schools with either high levels of disadvantage, or schools where disadvantaged pupils are underperforming.

We do not give guidance at the application stage about exactly which schools should be involved. At this stage, we are just looking for evidence that the project is likely to improve outcomes for disadvantaged pupils and an idea of the number of schools you would hope to work with.

Due to the number of successful initiatives already underway in London, as well as the amount of funding that is being targeted at education initiatives there, we are particularly keen to fund projects working in schools outside London. We would expect to work with all successful applicants to finalise delivery areas and determine the best school recruitment approach.

How will successful projects be evaluated?

The EEF will work with the most promising applicants and our independent evaluators to collaboratively design a robust evaluation. This often means having a group of pupils or schools who want to participate but who are, initially at least, randomised to a ‘control group’. Therefore it is unhelpful to have already engaged with a large number of schools, if they are then going to be disappointed if they are not allowed to participate straightaway.

The exact evaluation will depend on the nature of the approach being tested. But designing a robust evaluation inevitably requires the project plan to be adapted in some way. We do not expect applicants to have a clear idea of how their model could be tested, but ask that they are open to working with us to shape their project so that we can make a good assessment of the educational impact of the programme. This could involve, for example, stripping out some elements of the project so that we are focusing on a clear intervention, or delivering the programme to more/fewer schools than was initially proposed.

Does the EEF provide continuation funding?

The EEF has a focus on innovation, evaluation and the scaling-up of projects that have the potential to improve outcomes for disadvantaged pupils in England. EEF funding is not intended simply to replace other funding or to allow the straightforward continuation of existing activity. For example, we would be unlikely to fund schools simply to continue to run a programme that they have been delivering.

What size is the average EEF grant?

We tend towards making fewer, larger grants, as this enables us to carry out statistically meaningful project evaluations and devote enough of our time to your project to give it the best possible chance of success. As such, it is unlikely that we will award grants to small-scale projects. There is no maximum level of grant; however, as with all applications, the funding requested should be commensurate with the scale and nature of the project and the capacity of the host organisation.

What is the average length of an EEF grant?

There is no standard EEF grant length; we welcome applications for multi-year grants. We are keen that projects be as effective as possible and recognise that some successful projects may require a development phase and a substantial intervention period before their success can be evaluated. We work collaboratively with the most promising applicants to design an appropriate project timeline.

Do you support projects outside England?

No – EEF funds are intended for schools and students in England. We are very open, however, to innovative ideas from overseas that are applicable to schools in England.

Do you offer more than funding support?

You can expect the EEF to be engaged with your project and to help you develop and evaluate it for maximum impact. The extent of the non-financial support we offer will vary depending on the nature of the project and organisation running it.

Can I make or participate in more than one application?

Organisations and schools are free to participate in multiple bids (e.g. as a named school), but we would advise against a single organisation leading more than one bid.

The EEF will only be making a limited number of relatively large scale grants throughout the year and we would like to see these spread across a range of organisations, areas and approaches. As a result, if you are considering leading multiple applications, we would encourage you to consider a) consolidating your project ideas into a single approach or b) focusing on developing the single idea which you believe has the most potential. If your application is not approved in one review of funding, you would be welcome to submit a more developed proposal in future rounds or we may speak to you about carrying-over your project to a future round.

When should I apply for funding?

The EEF intends to spend £200m over its 15-year lifespan. There is no benefit in rushing to apply in the early rounds.

The EEF will accept initial applications all year round and will review them at specified points. There is no advantage in submitting applications early. You are welcome to contact us when you are in the early stages of thinking about applying to see if we believe that the idea has the potential to meet our criteria. The number of grants we are able to approve and support at each review point is limited as we wish to spread the funding over the lifetime of the Foundation.

My project is aimed at children outside the 5-16 age group. Am I eligible for EEF funding?

EEF funding is primarily focused on children aged 5-16 eligible for free school meals. While we would be willing to consider projects which start or end beyond the limits of this age range in some cases, we would expect the project to have a measurable impact on student attainment within the 5-16 age range.

My project meets the criteria but has been rejected. Why is this?

The EEF receives a large number of applications in each funding round. Therefore we inevitably have to reject a large number of interesting applications that technically meet our criteria. We are happy to provide feedback to unsuccessful applicants if you get in touch with us. However, we are often unable to give specific guidance about how to ensure that an application is successful in the future.

Does the EEF fund university overheads?

The EEF does not fund university overheads. Applicants working in universities can apply for funding for all ‘directly incurred’ costs (eg, salary costs of research assistants) and, subject to certain conditions, ‘directly allocated’ costs (eg, the costs of support staff where these are specifically needed for the project). The EEF does not fund indirect university costs (eg, estate costs of permanent university staff).