EEF publishes three new evaluation reports

Today, the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) has published independent evaluations of three EEF-funded projects.

These include the first report from our ‘School Choices’ stream of evaluations, which aim to answer research questions which are highly relevant to school policies and practices, but not easily testable through the experimental impact evaluations of programmes the EEF usually funds.

Within-class attainment grouping

This School Choices study aimed to understand whether grouping children by attainment during lessons (either same-attainment or mixed-attainment grouping) is associated with higher or lower mathematics achievement compared to whole-class teaching for pupils in Year 2 (Key Stage 1), Year 5 (KS2), and Year 9 (KS3).

The analysis, conducted by University College London, did not find that any single approach to attainment grouping or whole-class teaching was associated with higher academic outcomes.

The findings are based on data for 7,899 Year 2 pupils, 2,856 Year 5 pupils, and 3,288 Year 9 pupils.

The full evaluation report, together with the EEF’s commentary on the findings, is available here.

In addition, the EEF has published the evaluation reports of two other randomised controlled trials:

Philosophy for Children (P4C)

198 schools took part in this second EEF-funded trial of Philosophy for Children (P4C), an approach to teaching and learning in which children take part in philosophical enquiry with the aim of enhancing thinking and communication skills, boosting confidence and self-esteem, and improving behaviour.

The first EEF trial involving 40 schools suggested promising impact, with the independent evaluation estimating an additional +2 months’ impact in reading and maths. As a result, the EEF funded a larger trial.

In this subsequent trial, independently evaluated by NFER, pupils who received P4C made, on average, no additional progress in reading and maths compared to children in the comparison group. This result has a very high security rating of 5 ‘padlocks’ on the EEF’s evidence rating scale. The evaluation also found that pupils taking part in P4C made, on average, no significant improvements in character-related skills.

Teachers in participating schools reported the programme had a positive impact on pupils’ social, thinking and communication skills, and found it particularly helpful for children who were less self-confident.

The study results do not show any negative effects on pupil outcomes, suggesting that class time can be directed towards this activity without reducing reading or maths outcomes.

However, as a result of this latest trial's finding of no impact of on attainment outcomes, the EEF has removed P4C from our list of Promising Projects.

The full evaluation report is available here, together with the EEF’s commentary.

Visible Classroom

This trial looked at the effectiveness of the Visible Classroom programme in supporting teachers’ professional development through personalised feedback and mentorship on teaching practice, with the aim of improving pupils’ mathematics and reading outcomes in Years 5 and 6 (ages 9-11).

Teachers of 7,230 students from 86 schools participated in the trial, which found that pupils taught by teachers in intervention schools made, on average, -1 month’s less progress in Key Stage 2 reading and maths. This result has a high security rating of 4 ‘padlocks’ on the EEF’s evidence rating scale.

The evaluation, conducted by the Behavioural Insights Team, identified a number of barriers to implementation that might have prevented the programme from having a positive impact. For example, teachers found they did not have enough time to properly engage with the feedback they were given, and some teachers felt self-conscious about lessons being recorded. A limitation of this trial is that it did not examine whether teacher’ practice changed as a result of participating in the programme.

The full evaluation report, together with the EEF’s commentary on the findings, is available here