Education Endowment Foundation:New £2M fund to find best ways to improve outcomes for EAL pupils

New £2M fund to find best ways to improve outcomes for EAL pupils

Press Release •3 minutes •

Strategies to boost attainment for pupils who speak English as an additional language (EAL) will be tested in a new £2m funding round launched today by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), the Bell Foundation and Unbound Philanthropy.

The new round will award funding to up to five projects to trial and evaluate them across large numbers of English schools. Successfully funded trials will be independently evaluated and the results will help to build an evidence base of the most effective ways to improve the attainment of those groups of EAL pupils most at risk of underachievement.

Today’s fund builds on previous research from Oxford University, commissioned by the three funders (EEF, Unbound Philanthropy and the Bell Foundation), that looked at the academic achievement of pupils classified as having English as an Additional Language (EAL).

The ground-breaking reports found that there is a massive variation in the results achieved by pupils classified as EAL. While some EAL pupils catch-up with their peers by the age of 16, average attainment figures mask a huge range of different outcomes. The report showed that certain factors contribute to low-achievement. These include:

  • Belonging to a specific ethnic group. EAL pupils in the ethnic groups of White Other (which includes many from Eastern Europe), Black African and Pakistani have markedly lower outcomes than their peers. Speakers of Somali, Lingala and Lithuanian have especially low outcomes at aged 16.
  • Arriving in England during a Key Stage. On average, these pupils were 12 months behind their peers.
  • Attending a school outside of London.

The reports’ authors, Professors Steve Strand and Victoria Murphy, called on schools to target their EAL funding better, in ways that improve the achievement of their EAL pupils most at risk of poor academic outcomes. They highlight that whilst there are a small number of approaches and interventions with some evidence of promise for EAL pupils, there is a lack of high-quality evidence in this field as to what really boosts attainment.

Today’s funding round will help to address this evidence gap. The results of the evaluations will be added to the Sutton Trust-EEF Teaching and Learning Toolkit, a resource used by almost half of all school leaders which offers schools an accessible summary of educational research to inform their decision-making.

The three funders are inviting applications from not-for-profit organisations such as mainstream primary or secondary schools, charities, local authorities or social enterprises. All applicants should have an interest in raising the attainment of EAL pupils.

Dr Kevan Collins, Chief Executive of the Education Endowment Foundation, says:

Improving the attainment of students without English as a first language enables them to thrive and engage with the community and country they live in. In order for schools and teachers to do this most effectively, it’s absolutely vital that they have access to high-quality evidence of what does and doesn’t work.”

Diana Sutton, Director of the Bell Foundation, says:

We know that average attainment figures mask a huge range of outcomes for pupils who speak a language in addition to English and that certain groups have especially poor outcomes. I’m delighted that together with the Education Endowment Foundation and Unbound Philanthropy we are able to make a significant commitment to finding the best methods to improve learning for those groups most at risk of underachievement.”


  1. The Education Endowment Foundation is a charity set up in 2011 by the Sutton Trust as lead foundation in partnership with Impetus Trust, with a Department for Education grant of £125m. It is dedicated to breaking the link between family income and educational achievement. Since its launch the EEF has awarded £57 million to 100 projects working with over 620,000 pupils in over 4,900 schools across England.
  2. The Bell Foundation works to change lives and overcome exclusion through language education for excluded individuals and communities, with the aim of changing practice, policy and public opinion through evidence.
  3. Unbound Philanthropy is a private grantmaking foundation dedicated to ensuring that migrant, refugees, and their families are treated with respect and dignity; are able to contribute fully in their new communities; and can ultimately thrive in a society that is comfortable with the diversity and opportunity that immigration brings.
  4. In 2014, over one million children were eligible for EAL funding and £243 million was allocated to schools for their education via the local authority funding system. Under the current system, the EAL category encompasses any pupil that speaks a language in addition to English and has entered compulsory education within the last three years.
  5. Interested organisations should register for the round via the EEF website and complete the online form.
  6. Applications for funding will open on 15 May 2015 and close on 1 October 2015. To find out more and to read the guidance notes, go here:
  7. The EAL review, published by the EEF in January of this year, can be accessed here: