How the EEF is supporting new DfE funds for school improvement

The Department for Education has announced the first awards from the Strategic School Improvement Fund (SSIF), a £140 million fund for teaching schools, local authorities and multi-academy trusts to use evidence-based approaches to improve performance and attainment in local schools.

The successful projects from round 1 include a programme to tackle low attainment in reading for children in some of the most deprived areas of Norfolk and Suffolk and a project to support disadvantaged pupils’ progress in modern foreign languages and science in Cambridgeshire. The second round is due to open later in September.

To help ensure the Fund is spent in ways that are most likely to make a difference to pupil outcomes, the EEF is providing support to potential applicants on how to develop evidence-informed projects. We’re taking part in the Department for Education roadshows that are running across the country, which will reach many hundreds of school, local authority and MAT leaders in every region.

We will also use our knowledge of the evidence base and our experience of funding projects to advise on the Department’s selection process and, in some cases, provide detailed feedback on the evidence underpinning the project and its feasibility. The Department for Education, however, makes the grants and takes the ultimate decisions on funding.

It is also crucial that we evaluate the impact of the Fund overall and the projects within it. The EEF team are providing support on how best to do this – and assessing whether any individual grants are suitable for an EEF-led impact evaluation.

We are providing similar support for the Teaching and Leadership Innovation Fund too, a 3-year investment to support high-quality professional development for teachers and school leaders in areas of the country and the schools that need it most.

Sir Kevan Collins, Chief Executive of the Education Endowment Foundation, said:

Together the Strategic School Improvement Fund and the Teaching and Leadership Innovation Fund represent a significant amount of money in our school system. To really make a difference to the pupils and schools that need it most, it’s crucial that evidence of ‘what works’ is put at the heart of how it is spent.

I’m pleased that we’ll be able to use our organisational expertise to support these two funds.