Twitter, Conferences Or Magazines?

Trials involving 8,000 schools will test the best ways to help schools use evidence to improve teaching.

Four ground-breaking trials, to investigate the best ways of getting teachers to engage with research and improve pupils’ attainment, were announced the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) today. They will involve over 8,000 schools across England and cost £1.8m.

Millions of pounds are spent every year in the UK researching teaching and learning, and investigating how to improve outcomes for young people. The Government is promoting evidence based policy-making through What Works Centres which cover public spending areas valued at more than £200 billion. However, despite increasing interest and expenditure in education research, current evidence suggests its impact in schools is often limited.

The studies announced today will, for the first time at this scale, analyse whether using evidence in schools has an effect on attainment. International evidence shows a strong correlation between high performing education systems and the effective use of research in schools. These studies will test which approaches are most effective at engaging teachers with research findings. The four trials will test different methods of engaging teachers and school leaders with research and measure their effect on students’ attainment. The strategies range from face-to-face instruction, access to websites and twitter chats, posting information booklets to schools, professional development sessions and research conferences aimed at teachers.

One study will test whether identifying an “opinion leader” in the staffroom, someone with informal influence in a school, and supporting them through a professional learning community including heads and other schools can have an impact on evidence use and attainment.

Another trial, involving 720 primary schools, will analyse the difference in impact between simply giving schools access to information versus more active engagement through online guides featuring cartoon stick teachers, conferences or training sessions.

Kevan Collins, Chief Executive of the Education Endowment Foundation, said: “The gap between the educational research community and schools remains too wide. Although close to half of all school leaders now use the Sutton Trust-EEF Toolkit, which summarises over 10,000 pieces of research, to help them improve teaching and learning, we still don’t know enough about the best strategies to translate evidence into attainment.

“These trials are unique in trying to rigorously test the most effective ways to communicate research findings to schools. We know that the best performing education systems embrace research and act on its findings. The results of these trials will bring us closer to building a system that can cost effectively keep teachers informed about research and help them achieve the best possible outcomes for students.”

Schools Minister David Laws said: “A good teacher can have a transformative effect on a child’s life. This Coalition Government wants to help the teaching profession to use the latest evidence and research in the classroom. That is why we have already invested £135 million in the Education Endowment Foundation, and are working with teaching schools to test new ways of getting research to improve outcomes for pupils.”

Notes to editors

  • 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 through evidence-based research. Since its launch the EEF has awarded £41 million to 78 projects working with over 560,000 pupils in over 2,900 schools across England.
  • http://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/
  • 2.The trials are being funded with a Government grant of £1 million and a £300,000 grant from the London Schools Excellence Fund. The EEF will cover additional evaluation costs estimated at £500,000.
  • 3.Apoll by the National Foundation for Education Research for the Sutton Trust released earlier this week found that 63% of school leaders said their school considers research evidence when deciding how to improve pupil learning. 45% of school leaders use the Sutton Trust/EEF Toolkit. However, only 38% of classroom teachers said their school used research evidence to decide which approaches to adopt.
  • 4.The Teaching and Learning Toolkit is an accessible summary of educational research developed by the EEF in collaboration with the Sutton Trust and a team of academics at Durham University. It covers 34 topics and summarises research from over 10,000 studies. The Toolkit is a live resource which is regularly updated as new findings are published. {page_13}/
ProjectDelivery organisationsEvaluatorGrant Budget (excludes evaluation costs)No. of schoolsReport due
Piloting a “research champion” working across a group of schoolsAshford teaching Alliance
Rochdale Inspirational Primary Learning Community Network
Nat Cen£105,00017Spring 2016
Structured school improvement involving external research and evaluationHuntington SchoolInstitute of Education£270,00040Autumn 2017
Opinion leaders and senior leaders promoting and embedding evidence useInstitute of Education’s London Centre for Leadership in LearningBristol University£240,000100Spring 2017
Communication approaches, active versus passiveInstitute for Effective Education, York University
Campaign for Learning/Teaching How2s
Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring, Durham University
NatCen and Research Ed
National Foundation for Educational Research£630,000Passive trial – at least 8,000
Active trial - 720
Spring 2017