EEF publishes new evaluation reports, including sleep education pilot

The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) has published four new evaluation reports today, including a pilot of a sleep education programme.

12 schools took part in the pilot of Teensleep, a sleep education programme developed by a team from the University of Oxford. Teachers delivered a series of 10, half hour lessons highlighting the importance of sleep for effective learning, as well as providing practical advice like avoiding caffeine in the evening.

The independent evaluation, by a team from Durham University, found no evidence that the programme led to improvements in students’ sleep as measured by wrist-worn activity monitors. However, they did find some evidence of improvements to students’ self-reported behaviours – for example, reductions in daytime napping.

The evaluation highlighted difficulties in collecting and analysing sleep data which would need to be addressed before a bigger impact evaluation was commissioned.

The EEF has published three other independent evaluations of trials today:

  • Grammar for Writing, which aims to improve writing by helping pupils to understand how ‘linguistic structures’ convey meaning. Grammar rules are taught in the context of particular writing genres like narrative fiction or persuasive writing, rather than in the abstract. The independent evaluation, led by a team from the Institute for Effective Education at York University, found no evidence that pupils receiving the approach made any additional progress on their writing outcomes.
  • Catch Up® Numeracy, a one-to-one intervention for Key Stage 2 pupils struggling with numeracy. The EEF funded this trial after a smaller evaluation suggested some evidence of promise. This trial compared pupils receiving Catch Up® Numeracy with pupils receiving equivalent TA support, in schools that had been sent the latest research on best practice. The evaluators from the University of Nottingham found no difference in progress between pupils who received Catch Up® Numeracy and those who received the alternative.
  • Catch Up® Literacy, a structured one-to-one literacy intervention for pupils between the ages of 6 and 14 who are struggling to learn to read. A smaller trial, also funded by the EEF, had a positive impact on readers during the transition between primary and secondary school. The EEF funded this second evaluation to test a scalable model of the intervention. It compared pupils receiving Catch Up® Literacy with pupils receiving normal TA support. The independent evaluation, led by a team from NFER, found no evidence that the Year 4 and 5 pupils receiving the intervention made more progress than those who received normal TA support. 

These three projects – Grammar for Writing, Catch Up® Numeracy and Catch Up® Literacy – were listed as EEF Promising Projects owing to the initially encouraging results of their independent evaluations when first trialled. The EEF has taken the decision now to remove them from the list, given the no-impact results of the subsequent large-scale trial, and that the model of delivery did not change to any significant degree between our first efficacy trial (under best possible conditions) and second effectiveness trial (under everyday conditions).

There are currently 16 programmes highlighted as EEF Promising Projects, including Tutor Trust and Embedding Formative Assessment, which were added earlier this week.

Sir Kevan Collins, Chief Executive of the EEF, commented:

It’s naturally disappointing when we find projects initially delivered with promising results not managing to repeat that finding when delivered at scale. But that is the nature of sticking firm to a rigorous, evidence-informed approach, ensuring teachers and senior leaders know the EEF will always report in full what the independent evaluation finds.

Finding programmes which deliver positive impact in a few schools is one thing; supporting them then to expand in a way which doesn’t dilute that impact is the real test of their potential to help close the attainment gap. This is tricky work and despite the difficulties – indeed, precisely because of them – we remain committed to getting to grips with it.