EEF to evaluate trial of new maths premium

The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) will evaluate a programme to give colleges, sixth forms and other provider types additional cash for their pupils studying towards a GCSE maths grade 4 or above. The aim of the trial is to test different funding models and find out if they are effective at improving pupil outcomes.

Since 2014, 16 year olds who don’t get at least a grade ‘4’ (roughly equivalent to a ‘C’) in their GCSE have had to keep on studying Maths and English until they are 18, or secure a GCSE grade 4 or above in these subjects.

However, supporting older learners to secure these qualifications is challenging. Colleges have received no additional funding for these pupils, and achievement rates remain low: just one in six of those students eligible for free school meals who do not achieve the expected standard in English and maths at age 16 go on to gain those qualifications by age 19.

The Department for Education is funding the pilot of a programme to provide additional funding for post-16 settings in disadvantaged areas, the Post 16 Basic Maths Premium Pilot. The EEF will fund the independent evaluation, led by NatCen Social Research.

Over 450 colleges and other settings have been recruited by the Department for Education to take part in the trial. They will be randomised into three groups:

  • One will get £500 upfront for every student arriving in September 2018 without a Grade 4 or above in GCSE Maths;
  • Another will get £250 upfront for every student arriving in September 2018 without a Grade 4 or above in GCSE Maths, and a further £250 in September 2020 for every student who goes on to get their GCSE grade 4 or above, or other eligible qualification;
  • A third group will get £500 in September 2020 for every student who goes on to get their GCSE grade 4 or above, or other eligible qualification.

The EEF-funded evaluation will compare outcomes to similar settings in areas not eligible for funding, to measure the difference in pass rates.

In addition to this trial, the EEF is working with J.P. Morgan to improve the evidence about the best ways to improve English and Maths outcomes for resit students. Since 2016 we have funded 4 projects to find out how best to improve outcomes for this group of learners, who are disproportionately drawn from disadvantaged homes.