English Mastery is a two-year intervention aiming to support KS3 English teachers to be more effective by implementing a coherent and cumulative approach to curriculum design including bespoke assessments. In this trial, Years 7 and 8 pupils will receive the curriculum with the aim of improving achievement in the subject of English. There is a traditional pathway for children reaching age-related expectations and a foundational pathway for those working below expectations. The three distinct elements of the programme are:
- Literary heritage: introduces pupils to canonical texts and modern classics. The lessons follow a knowledge-rich approach to teaching English. Content about the subject of English, literature, the world, history, culture and heritage and how that knowledge connects together is taught explicitly.
- Writing Mastery: introduces pupils to grammatical concepts and rules in a logical and cumulative sequence. The rules are taught discretely from reading. The lessons follow an interleaved structure and pupils deliberately practise concepts to the point of mastery.
- Reading for pleasure: introduces pupils to shared reading of contemporary texts using a structured approach. This strand is used to teach vocabulary explicitly.
Schools nominate a member of their English department to become the English Mastery Lead (EML) to lead the implementation of the programme in their school. The EML leads weekly co-planning sessions to support teachers to plan their implementation of the curriculum together. Teachers are provided with subject-specific training, curriculum materials including access to the MyMastery platform and ongoing in-school support and coaching.
As part of the Department for Education’s Accelerator Fund, the EEF is commissioning a number of efficacy trials of programmes that show promise for increasing pupil attainment. These trials will take place in the Research School Commissioner regions of the North, East Midlands & Humber, West Midlands.
The EEF previously funded an efficacy trial of English Mastery in 2018 which was disrupted due to partial school closures caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. A short report focusing on implementation and process evaluation activities undertaken will be published in Spring 2022.
English Mastery has been independently evaluated by the Brilliant Club using a matched design involving 14 schools (1,700 pupils). After three years of the intervention, pupils in the intervention schools made greater progress than those in the control schools (around +4 months’ additional progress) on a standardised measure of reading. There was also evidence that English Mastery was particularly effective for pupils with low prior attainment. This impact is based on the first few years of the programme during which time it was still being developed.
In addition, the programme includes a variety of elements that are of particular interest to schools, such as an emphasis on explicit teaching, delivering a knowledge-rich curriculum and interleaving.
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The programme will be evaluated by a team from Sheffield Hallam University (SHU) using a randomised controlled trial. This will be an efficacy trial: the programme will be tested under best possible conditions. It will measure the impact of delivering English Mastery to Years 7 and 8, measuring English outcomes at the end of Year 8 via the GL Progress Test in English (PTE). In addition, the impact evaluation will include spelling, punctuation and grammar and Reading comprehension as secondary outcomes.
The evaluation will also include an implementation and process evaluation, which will examine the impact of English Mastery on teacher confidence to deliver a coherent and cumulative approach to curriculum design, identify issues of fidelity and scalability, enablers/barriers to implementation of different strands of the programme, cost effectiveness and perceived impact by teachers and by pupils.
The evaluation report will be published in Spring 2025.