‘​Why the EEF focuses on failure as well as success’

This week's TES magazine's cover story is titled, 'Why failure is key to success in schools'.

Inside, there is a response from our chief executive, Sir Kevan Collins, explaining why we place importance on what doesn’t work, not just on what does:

“When a school is successful, there has to be a concerted effort to find out how they have tackled common challenges so we can all learn and share knowledge across the system. But Nick Rose is right. Identifying what has worked in the past is useful only if we are as curious about what hasn’t.

“The Education Endowment Foundation has funded over 100 evaluations of different teaching and learning strategies, not just to identify promising programmes and approaches, but – and this is just as important - to find out what doesn’t work, too.

“Many of our findings challenge common assumptions. Who’d have thought that breakfast clubs would improve grades, but cash incentives would make little difference?

“We report all our findings in full and in public – whether the result is positive, negative or neutral – so that schools, governors and policymakers can use them to help them decide what new, strategies to implement (as well as which ones they should stop).

“But while the main objective of our trials is usually to find out what impact a specific programme has on attainment, we also want to know why this has happened too.

“In some trials, a promising intervention might not have had an impact because it wasn’t implemented faithfully or for a long enough period of time. In others, it might be that the programme in question was just not effective.

“It is only by looking at why something has or hasn’t worked that we can get us some ‘big picture’ ideas of why different teaching and learning strategies are more effective than others.”