Education Endowment Foundation:Embedding contextualisation in English and mathematics GCSE teaching

Embedding contextualisation in English and mathematics GCSE teaching

Association of Employment and Learning Providers
Implementation cost Not given for this trial
Evidence strength Not given for this trial
Impact (months)
Independent Evaluator
London School of Economics
London School of Economics logo
Testing whether teachers can be supported to contextualise English and mathematics lessons for post-16 learners
Schools: 6 Grant: £139,150
Key Stage: 1 Duration: 2 year(s) 3 month(s) Type of Trial: Pilot Study
Completed Jul 2019

Embedding contextualisation in English and Mathematics GCSE teaching’ trained English and Maths teachers to use real life and vocational contexts and examples in their teaching, to emphasise the relevance of studies to the future careers of students re-sitting GCSE English and/​or Maths.

The EEF funded this evaluation to build the evidence base on contextualised learning, An EEF review into post-16 approaches suggested that an integrated, contextualised approach could be more accessible and engaging to vocational students who struggled with GCSE Maths than a more traditional academic approach. Since 2014, students without a good pass in English and Maths GCSE (a 4’ or higher under the new GCSE grading system) must continue to study these subjects until they are 18, or secure a qualification in them.

This pilot study found limited increases in the use of contextualised learning in the classroom. It was therefore difficult to assess whether the intervention had an impact on outcomes like retention and attainment. The intervention helped to raise the profile of contextualisation among teachers and senior leaders, however teachers reported concerns about the challenge of applying contextualised knowledge to a non-contextualised GCSE exam

EEF has no plans for a further trial of Embedding contextualisation’ but will continue to consider other projects which aim to improve English and Maths outcomes for students re-sitting their GCSE exams

If the intervention is taken forward for wider rollout, it needs significant changes. These could include the provision of additional resources, changes to the structure of sessions, and more clarity about the expectations of participating staff

Project type:Pilot Study
Key stage:Key Stage 5
Subject:Cross curriculum
Delivered by:Teachers
Participant group:Whole Class
Intervention length:1
No. of Teachers/​TAs:Variable
Staff training duration:4