English Mastery

Ark UK Programme’s English Mastery programme trains and provides resources to English teachers to deliver a knowledge-rich Key Stage 3 English curriculum consisting of three distinct elements. 

The first, Literacy Heritage, introduces pupils to canonical texts and modern classics, explicitly teaching pupils knowledge about the subject of English, the world, history, culture and heritage. 

The second, Mastery Writing, teaches pupils grammatical concepts and rules in a logical and cumulative sequence. Here, the lessons follow an interleaved structure and pupils deliberately practise concepts to the point of mastery. 

The third, Reading for Pleasure, introduces pupils to shared reading of contemporary texts, and uses this activity as an opportunity to explicitly teach vocabulary.

In this trial, Years 7 and 8 pupils will receive the curriculum, and each school will nominate an English Mastery Ambassador to lead implementation in school. Alongside a member of their senior leadership team, and the English Department, this Ambassador will receive induction training, followed by termly subject mastery twilight webinars, termly visits (which include coaching and a bespoke CPD session), and termly standardised assessment days.

Why are we funding it?

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 a knowledge-rich curriculum and interleaving. 

How are we evaluating it?

The programme will be evaluated by a team from NatCen using a randomised controlled trial. This will be an efficacy trial, meaning that 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. In addition, the evaluation will also measure the impact on teacher workload and GCSE outcomes.

The evaluation will also include an implementation and process evaluation, which will analyse how the programme is implemented across different schools and the barriers and facilitators to implementation.

When will the evaluation report be due?

The evaluation report will be published in Spring 2022.