EEF Blog: Actionable evidence - the process behind our guidance reports

Clear and actionable guidance for teachers on high-priority issues - that's what EEF Guidance Reports aim to provide. In this blog, our programme manager Peter Henderson talks us through the process that goes into creating them...

What are EEF Guidance Reports?

EEF Guidance Reports are a new type of resource that is becoming a core part of our approach to communicating evidence to teachers and senior leaders. These reports review the best available evidence on a particular aspect of teaching and learning, and make actionable recommendations for improving teaching practice.

So far we have published three EEF Guidance Reports - two on primary literacy and one on the deployment of teaching assistants - and are planning to publish more on maths, science and metacognition in the coming months.

I want to take you "behind the scenes" of the writing process, explaining some of our thinking about why and how we produce them. The key principles behind our guidance can be summarised as the 4 'A's: our guidance aims to be Applicable, Accurate, Accessible, and Actionable.

Applicable

A core principle of EEF Guidance Reports is that they are applicable to the issues that are most salient to teachers. Too often, evidence-based guidance has addressed the issues that are most interesting to researchers, rather than those that are most important to practitioners.

At the beginning of each guidance report we carry out a careful scoping exercise, involving teachers, policy makers, academics and other stakeholders in order to identify the most important issues for teaching practice.

Accurate

EEF Guidance Reports are based on literature reviews of the best available research evidence. These are conducted for us by an independent research team, usually drawn from our panel of evaluators.

The review will look at wide variety of different types of evidence: the best intervention evidence, the evidence about how pupils learn in a particular area, and evidence about the state of current practice.

Accessible

We work with a panel of teachers and academics to take the findings from the evidence review and make recommendations that teachers can actually understand. We aim to strip out jargon and technical information, so that we are left with practical, accessible recommendations.

Actionable

We know that producing accessible Guidance Reports, while valuable, is not enough. If they are actually going to change practice, we need to produce resources and training that support school leaders to take action. EEF Guidance Reports are accompanied by a batch of additional resources that support implementation. For example, the Making Best Use of Teaching Assistants guidance was accompanied by Self-assessment audit tools, Staff observation tools, and Draft school policies.

We are also working with partners, including our Research Schools Network, to design and deliver programmes of training and support for implementation. In our current North East Primary Literacy Campaign we partnered with local authorities, teaching schools and multi-academy trusts (MATs) to deliver training based on our improving literacy guidance.

Where can I find EEF guidance reports?

More information about our available guidance and the schedule for future reports can be found here.