EEF blog: Opening the floodgates

Grants manager Eleanor Stringer writes about the new EEF funding round, which opened on Friday

Take yourself back to the afternoon 4th October 2011. Do you remember where you were, what you were doing? I do. Because that was the afternoon of the first deadline for applications for funding from the Education Endowment Foundation. Our applications system had been working perfectly. Until it was accidentally shut down an hour before the deadline… You can imagine the panicked phone calls we received. You may even have been one of the callers. If so, I can only apologise and hope that you’ve recovered from the stress.

As a new funder in an age of austerity, we were deluged with interest. We were excited to receive 250 applications in that first round. Following plenty of discussion and due diligence, 8 of these were approved for funding by our trustees. (Only 6 of those ended up getting going, two fell by the wayside once we all realised the full implications of our commitment to rigorous and independent evaluation. But that’s another story.)

Why am I telling you this? Because, following a break where we focused on proposals looking at how neuroscience findings can be applied in the classroom, we have just opened up a new funding round. As usual, we are looking for interesting ideas that are aimed at raising the attainment of disadvantaged pupils, are evidence-based, and are scalable.

The application form is just the start of the process. What we are looking for in the initial form is a good summary of the project and an idea of how it is informed by evidence. We will then work with the most promising of the applicants to develop detailed project and evaluation plans, using experimental methods like randomised controlled trials wherever possible.

A lot has happened since that first funding round closed. We’ve learned a lot (including how to run an application system!). But our core aims are exactly the same, and interest in evidence in education is growing. And the hard work of those initial months is finally bearing fruit – we hope to publish the findings of three of those first grants in September.

And we still get just as excited when we see new applications coming in, so I can’t wait until October to see what comes through the door.

We are now accepting applications. The round closes on 1st October 2014. Please look at our Apply for Funding pages, and get in touch if you think you have any ideas that we might be interested in.