Education Endowment Foundation:New EEF research: Encouraging tutors to find out what they have in common with pupils can help boost attendance at sessions

New EEF research: Encouraging tutors to find out what they have in common with pupils can help boost attendance at sessions


EEF publishes findings from evaluations testing the impact of strategies informed by behavioural science on pupil attendance at National Tutoring Programme tuition sessions. 

Press Release •3 minutes •

Getting tutors and pupils to take short online surveys to identify what they have in common can help boost attendance at sessions, according to a new report published by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) today.

The Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) tested three different strategies to find out if light-touch’ interventions could boost attendance at tutoring sessions during the delivery of the National Tutoring Programme (NTP) Tuition Partners pillar in the Spring and Summer term of 2021.

Four of the 33 Tuition Partners took part in the Snap Survey’ trial. Pupils and tutors answered quick-fire questions about their personal interests, hobbies, and values. One question asked participants to choose from a list of major sporting events which one they’d most like to attend. Another asked whether laughter, loyalty or listening is most important for a friendship.

Once completed, both tutors and pupils received instant feedback on their similarities. Tutors also received reminders of their similarities with their pupils for the next five weeks, including some suggested conversation prompts. Tutors then used teaching strategies that incorporated their pupils’ interests to help to build a positive relationship.

The evaluation found that pupils randomly selected to receive the Snap Survey had higher attendance rates than pupils in the business as usual’ control group, where Tuition Partners used their usual strategies to encourage attendance.

The intervention was delivered at a time when attendance in English schools was severely affected by partial school closures and pupil and staff absences. Data from the Department for Education shows school attendance was 58% for the Spring term of 2021.

The trials were designed to assess the effectiveness of the three different strategies, and not the overall attendance rate of the NTP. To do this, they developed an outcome measure that divided the number of session hours attended by the number of sessions purchased for that pupil. On this measure, the Snap Survey’ approach increased attendance at sessions from 62% to 66%.

The other two strategies tested were:

- Engagement-Boosting Reminders, where behaviorally informed reminder messages were sent directly to pupils via email.

- Prioritising Tutoring Relationships, where tutors completed a short web-based activity focused on relationship-building strategies that could be used with pupils. Tutors also received reminders about the personal strategy they developed in the activity.

These two strategies performed no better or worse than the strategies used in the business as usual’ control groups.

Professor Becky Francis, CEO of the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), said:

David Halpern, CEO of the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT), said:

Nick Bent and Abigail Shapiro, Co-Founders of Tutor Trust, said:

The attendance outcome measure was calculated by dividing the number of sessions hours attended by the number of session hours purchased for that pupil. In response to challenges related to school closures, some schools transferred purchased hours to other pupils, but this would not have been reflected in the data shared with the evaluator.

The overarching independent evaluation of Year 1 of the NTP is expected to be published in Autumn 2022.