Education Endowment Foundation:Basic Maths Premium Pilot

Basic Maths Premium Pilot

Department for Education
Implementation costThe cost estimates in the Toolkits are based on the average cost of delivering the intervention.
Evidence strengthThis rating provides an overall estimate of the robustness of the evidence, to help support professional decision-making in schools.
Impact (months)The impact measure shows the number of additional months of progress made, on average, by children and young people who received the intervention, compared to similar children and young people who did not.
Project info

Independent Evaluator

NatCen logo
The DfE is funding the pilot to provide additional funding for post-16 settings in disadvantaged areas to improve the outcomes of low attaining maths students.
Pupils: 48000 Schools: 469 Grant: £201,312
Key Stage: 5 Duration: 1 year(s) 8 month(s) Type of Trial: Efficacy Trial
Completed September 2020

Basic Maths Premium (BMP) is an intervention developed by the Department for Education that provides additional funding to support student attainment in GCSE maths. Students enrolled on a 16-to-19 study programme for the first time without prior attainment of a maths GCSE grade 4 or above for the 2018 to 2019 academic year cohort were eligible for the additional funding attached to this pilot. BMP was made available to post-16 educational settings in the most disadvantaged areas in England and was provided by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (EFSA), an executive agency of DfE.

Participating post-16 settings received up to £500 of additional funding per eligible student to provide support to students’ achievement in maths. A key component of this pilot was testing the relative effectiveness of three alternative funding models. The funding models tested were:

Model A: Guaranteed payment of £500 for every student enrolled by November 2018 without a Grade 4 or above in GCSE maths. Payments were due to be paid at the start of the 2018 – 19 academic year;

Model B: Guaranteed payment of £250 per eligible student at the start of the academic year and a further £250 in the academic year 2020 to 2021 for every student who achieved the required pass in maths (GCSE resit or Functional Skills) by Summer 2020;

Model C: Payment of £500 in the academic year 2020 to 2021 for every student enrolled by November 2018 who went on to achieve in maths by Summer 2020.

Since 2014, 16-year-olds who do not achieve at least a grade 4’ (roughly equivalent to a C’) in their GCSE are required to keep on studying maths and English until they are 18 or secure a GCSE grade 4 or above in these subjects. However, supporting learners in post-16 settings to secure these qualifications is challenging. Settings receive no additional funding for these students, and achievement rates remain low: just one in six of those students eligible for free school meals who do not achieve the expected standard in English and maths at age 16 go on to gain those qualifications by age 19.

In 2017, DfE conducted a literature and evidence review to understand the impact of changes in school funding on student outcomes. From the studies included there was modest evidence to suggest that additional per student expenditure may improve student’s attainment. However, there is a gap in evidence in relation to the specific effects of providing additional financial support, and the effectiveness of different models of provision.

Overall, this trial did not find evidence to support the premise that additional funding translated into an improvement in level 2 maths attainment among students resitting these exams in post-16 education. Nor was any evidence found that BMP had an impact on the likelihood that eligible students sit a GCSE exam rather than a Functional Skills Level 2 exam or no maths resit. Although there was some variation by funding model, as with any study there is uncertainty around the results: the possible impact in each group is compatible with both negative and positive changes in likelihood of passing level 2 resits.The evaluation experienced a number of challenges which gives it a very low security rating. Firstly, the nature of the project meant that it was not possible to have an experimentally assigned control group and the eligibility criteria for the BMP intervention meant that there were several marked differences in the characteristics of settings in the intervention and comparison groups. Models A and B were also affected by delays in receiving the guaranteed payments, making it likely that spending was used to benefit students in later cohorts than those the evaluation focused on. The evaluation was affected more broadly by the Covid-19 pandemic and the disruption to exams.

The results from this pilot do not confirm a link between education spending and attainment that has been demonstrated in other studies, however, there were some perceived benefits to students and staff highlighted in the implementation and process evaluation. Future evaluations would merit further consideration if issues around design and implementation could be addressed, although none are currently planned.. The evaluation, overall, provides some useful learning for policymakers when considering how funding can support post-16 resit learners.