About the Toolkit

About the Toolkit

The Sutton Trust-EEF Teaching and Learning Toolkit is an accessible summary of educational research which provides guidance for teachers and schools on how to use their resources to improve the attainment of disadvantaged pupils. The Toolkit currently covers 34 topics, each summarised in terms of their average impact on attainment, the strength of the evidence supporting them and their cost.

The Toolkit is a live resource that will be updated on a regular basis as findings from EEF-funded projects and other high-quality research become available. In addition, we would welcome suggestions for topics to be included in future editions. If you have a topic suggestion, or any other comments or questions about the Toolkit, please contact Robbie Coleman at robbie.coleman@eefoundation.org.uk.

Why is research useful?

We know that the relationship between spending and pupil outcomes is not simple. Per pupil spending increased by 85% between 1997 and 2011, but improvements in pupil outcomes were marginal on most measures. At school level, it is clear that different ways of spending school budgets can have very different impacts on pupil attainment, and choosing what to prioritise is not easy. Even once a decision to implement a particular strategy has been taken there are a wide variety of factors which determine its impact. We believe that educational research can help schools get the maximum 'educational bang for their buck', both in terms of making an initial choice between strategies, and in implementing a strategy as effectively as possible.

One particular spending decision which research can inform is how to spend the Pupil Premium. Introduced in 2010, the aim of the Pupil Premium is to raise achievement among disadvantaged children. It provides additional funding to schools for disadvantaged pupils to ensure they benefit from the same educational opportunities as pupils from wealthier families. In the 2014-15 financial year the Pupil Premium is worth £935 per eligible child in secondary schools and £1300 per eligible child in primary schools. If the Pupil Premium is to succeed in achieving its ambitious goals, the choices that schools make in allocating the money are of vital importance.

A range of approaches were selected for analysis and inclusion in the Toolkit, based on: i) approaches commonly mentioned in connection with education policy, ii) suggestions from schools, and iii) approaches with a strong evidence of effectiveness not covered by either previous criterion.

Average impact

Average impact is estimated in terms of the additional months' progress you might expect pupils to make as a result of an approach being used in school, taking average pupil progress over a year as a benchmark.

For example, research summarised in the Toolkit shows that improving the quality of feedback provided to pupils has an average impact of eight months. This means that pupils in a class where high quality feedback is provided will make on average eight months more progress over the course of a year compared to another class of pupils who were performing at the same level at the start of the year. At the end of the year the average pupil in a class of 25 pupils in the feedback group would now be equivalent to the 6th best pupil in the control class having made 20 months progress over the year, compared to an average of 12 months in the other class.

These estimations are based on ‘effect sizes’ reported in British and international comparative data (see table below). Effect sizes are quantitative measures of the impact of different approaches on learning. The Toolkit prioritises systematic reviews of research and quantitative syntheses of data such as meta-analyses of experimental studies. To be included in the analysis an approach needed to have some quantifiable evidence base for comparison. For more information about the Toolkit's methodology please view the Toolkit's Technical Appendices.

Most approaches included in the Toolkit tend to have very similar average impacts on pupils with different characteristics. However, where the research summarised suggests that an approach has a different average impact on the learning of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds compared to the learning of their peers, the Toolkit’s ‘headline’ average impact figure refers to the former.

Months' progress Effective size from... ...to Description
0 -0.01 0.01 Very low or no effect
1 0.02 0.09 Low
2 0.10 0.18 Low
3 0.19 0.26 Moderate
4 0.27 0.35 Moderate
5 0.36 0.44 Moderate
6 0.45 0.52 High
7 0.53 0.61 High
8 0.62 0.69 High
9 0.70 0.78 Very high
10 0.79 0.87 Very high
11 0.88 0.95 Very high
12 0.96 >1.0 Very high


Cost estimations are based on the approximate cost of implementing an approach in a class of 25 pupils. Where the approach does not require an additional resource, estimates are based on the cost of training or professional development which may be required. For more information about the Toolkit's methodology please view the Toolkit's Technical Appendices.

Cost Description
£ Very low: up to about £2,000 per year per class of 25 pupils, or less than £80 per pupil per year.
£ £ Low: £2,001 to £5,000 per year per class of 25 pupils, or up to about £170 per pupil per year.
£ £ £ Moderate: £5,001 to £18,000 per year per class of 25 pupils, or up to about £700 per pupil per year.
£ £ £ £ High: £18,001 to £30,000 per year per class of 25 pupils, or up to £1,200 per pupil.
£ £ £ £ £ Very high: over £30,000 per year per class of 25 pupils, or over £1,200 per pupil.


Evidence estimates are based on: the availability of evidence (i.e. the number of systematic reviews or meta-analyses and the quantity of primary studies which they synthesise); the methodological quality of the primary evidence; and the reliability or consistency of this impact across the studies reviewed. For more information about the Toolkit's methodology please view the Toolkit's Technical Appendices.

Rating Description
Very limited: Quantitative evidence of impact from single studies, but with effect size data reported or calculable. No systematic reviews with quantitative data or meta-analyses located.
Limited: At least one meta-analysis or systematic review with quantitative evidence of impact on attainment or cognitive or curriculum outcome measures.
Moderate: Two or more rigorous meta-analyses of experimental studies of school age students with cognitive or curriculum outcome measures.
Extensive: Three or more meta-analyses from well-controlled experiments mainly undertaken in schools using pupil attainment data with some exploration of causes of any identified heterogeneity.
Very Extensive: Consistent high quality evidence from at least five robust and recent meta-analyses where the majority of the included studies have good ecological validity and where the outcome measures include curriculum measures or standardised tests in school subject areas.

Notes on the October 2014 update

Major updates made to the Toolkit in October 2014 include:

  • The addition of one new topic: Reading comprehension strategies.
  • The merging of After school programmes and Extended school time into a single topic: Extending school time.
  • The inclusion of findings from EEF projects into five strands: Mentoring, Meta-cognition and self-regulation, Oral language interventions, Reading comprehension strategies and Summer schools.
  • Updated entries for Aspiration interventions and Small group tuition.
  • New Toolkit Talks for Mastery learningMentoring, Oral language interventions, Outdoor adventure learning and Repeating a year.

Who wrote the Toolkit?

The Toolkit was originally commissioned by the Sutton Trust and produced as the ‘Pupil Premium Toolkit’ by Durham University in May 2011. The Sutton Trust-EEF Teaching and Learning Toolkit has been developed from this initial analysis, since the Education Endowment Foundation’s launch in 2011.

The Toolkit is written by Professor Steve Higgins, Dr Maria Katsipataki (School of Education, Durham University), Professor Rob Coe (CEM Centre, Durham University), Dr Lee Elliot Major (The Sutton Trust), Robbie Coleman and Peter Henderson (Education Endowment Foundation).

Full reference: Higgins, S., Katsipataki, M., Coleman, R., Henderson, P., Major, L.E., & Coe, R. (2014). The Sutton Trust-Education Endowment Foundation Teaching and Learning Toolkit. October 2014. London: Education Endowment Foundation.