Education Endowment Foundation:Post-16 sector needs more support and resources to embrace evidence-informed practice, but clear appetite for doing so

Post-16 sector needs more support and resources to embrace evidence-informed practice, but clear appetite for doing so


New EEF review looks at how post-16 settings are using evidence to support teaching and learning for maths and English resits.

Press Release •4 minutes •

There’s a growing appetite among post-16 settings to use evidence to support teaching and learning, but a lack of support and resources for doing so, according to a new review published by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) today.

The review, by a team from the Centre for Education and Youth and the University of Warwick, was commissioned to build a clearer picture of post-16 GCSE resits practice and how evidence can support teaching and learning.

Getting a good’ pass in GCSE English and maths is widely viewed as important in supporting young people’s academic and career opportunities. Current policy means that students who do not gain a Grade 4 in English and maths in their first attempt must continue to study these subjects. However, in 2022, just 15.2 per cent of learners resitting their maths GCSE gained a Grade 4, while just under a quarter (24.1 per cent) did so in English.

The review identified significant barriers and challenges which contribute to these low conversion rates for GCSE resitters. Crucially, the ability of post-16 settings to recruit, retain and develop a highly skilled workforce was the biggest barrier to ensuring that learners are receiving high-quality teaching.

According to one post-16 practitioner interviewed for the research: In an ideal world, we’ll say we want them to have a degree … and at least a Level 3 in the subject that they’re teaching… But recruitment’s quite difficult as it is because schools pay more than FE, so they attract more teachers.”

The research also found a lack of well-developed evidence-informed programmes and interventions to support learners taking GCSE English and maths resits in post-16 settings and professional development for those teaching resit classes.

Based on the findings of today’s review, the researchers make a number of recommendations to support post-16 teaching and learning for students taking English and maths resits.

More research to better understand the conditions and conditions under which teaching and learning happen for lower-attaining post-16 learners, including:

  • How to create effective transitions from secondary school to post-16 institutions.
  • What we know about the characteristics and capacities of the post-16 English and maths teacher workforce.
  • How post-16 settings assess learners and organise curriculum and teaching for GCSE resit learners and what impact these choices have on outcomes.

Develop interventions and run trials to generate a more robust evidence base about the impact of particular practices and interventions, including:

  • Identifying promising approaches for learners at Key Stage 4 that could be adapted and tested for post-16 resit classrooms.
  • Testing promising approaches from vocational and academic post-16 courses for lower-attaining learners that could be adapted for post-16 resit classrooms.

Support and resources to improve the generation and use of evidence among post-16 practitioners and institutions, including:

  • Developing networks and professional learning communities to support post-16 providers with evidence use.

Today’s review and its recommendations will help shape the EEF’s future work in the post-16 space. Earlier this year, the EEF launched a new funding round to test interventions that could support practitioners and learners in GCSE maths and English resits. Post-16 settings will be able to sign-up to take part in the funded projects later this year.

Professor Becky Francis CBE, Chief Executive of the Education Endowment Foundation, said:

Joe Hallgarten, Chief Executive of the Centre for Education and Youth, said:

Dr Becky Morris and Dr Tom Perry, Associate Professors at the University of Warwick said: