Education Endowment Foundation:EEF blog: The EEF’s new and updated guide to effective implementation: what’s changed?

EEF blog: The EEF’s new and updated guide to effective implementation: what’s changed?


Prof. Jonathan Sharples, Jon Eaton, and Jamila Boughelaf introduce the new edition of our guidance report on effective implementation, and explain what’s changed, and what it means for you.

Blog •2 minutes •

Since it was launched in 2018, our guidance report on effective implementation has become one of our most popular resources. By shining a light on the process of implementation, it helps schools think about change in a more structured and purposeful way.

Given the widespread interest in implementation and the fast-changing nature of research in this area, over the last three years we have worked with a team of researchers to conduct a major new review of evidence on implementation in schools’. This has led to a substantial update to A School’s Guide to Implementation and a new edition of the report.

What’s been retained and what has changed?

The updated guidance report provides a new way of conceptualising implementation, but one that builds on the messages in the existing report. If the focus of the previous guidance report was to treat implementation as a process’, now we’re unpacking how to do that process well.

Fundamentally, this means recognising implementation as a collaborative and social process, driven by how people think, behave and interact. The greater emphasis on how people work together within implementation – leaders, teaching staff, parents, pupils etc. – is perhaps the most significant change.

What are the recommendations?

The first recommendation in the guidance sets out three cross-cutting behaviours that drive effective implementation in schools. It suggests that implementation improves when people are actively engaged and united, and have opportunities to reflect on implementation. These behaviours are at the heart of what drives effective implementation so should feature across a school’s implementation actions and interactions.

The second recommendation encourages schools to attend to the contextual factors that influence implementation and enable positive interactions to occur. This includes developing systems and structures that support implementation (e.g. time, data systems) and drawing on a broad range of people who enable change. The nature of what is being implemented is also a contextual factor, in terms of how manageable it is to implement and how well it fits the school setting and needs.

The third recommendation retains the structured process from the existing guidance report, organised into four phases: Explore, Prepare, Deliver, Sustain. This phased process helps schools navigate implementation and apply the behaviours and contextual factors in their day to day work.

An important change in the new guidance is that this process is now more flexible and responsive. Implementation is framed as a process of ongoing learning and improvement, which adapts to the changing needs of the school, pupils and staff.

Crucially, these three recommendations work together. The process helps schools do implementation. The cross-cutting behaviours and contextual factors helps them do it well.

Why this matters?

While English schools are becoming some of the most research engaged in the world, engagement with evidence does not automatically lead to changes in practice. Effective implementation is critical for turning an awareness of evidence into tangible changes in practices and improved outcomes. The updated guidance report provides a foundation that schools and system leaders can use to focus on what really matters in driving effective implementation.