Education Endowment Foundation:English Mastery

English Mastery

Ark UK Programmes
Implementation cost 
Evidence strengthNot given for this trial
Impact (months)
Independent Evaluator
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Training teachers to deliver a knowledge-rich Key Stage 3 English curriculum
Pupils: 19800 Schools: 110 Grant: £902,394
Key Stage: 1 Duration: 2 year(s) 5 month(s) Type of Trial: Efficacy Trial
Completed July 2021

English Mastery provides a knowledge-rich curriculum aiming to help teachers establish students’ progress and effectively plan English lessons throughout Key Stage 3. The curriculum has four pedagogical pillars rooted in cognitive and educational research: 1) emphasising accumulation of knowledge, 2) discrete grammar teaching, 3) systematic instruction of Tier 2 vocabulary (high frequency/​multiple meaning words), and 4) use of standardised, norm-referenced student work. There are different pathways for children reaching age-related expectations and those working below expectations.

The programme developer is Ark Curriculum Plus, a not-for-profit organisation.

English Mastery was developed to improve upon current assessment approaches to measure progress more effectively in English at Key Stage 3: the programme includes a variety of elements that are of interest to schools, such as an emphasis on explicit teaching, delivering a knowledge-rich curriculum and interleaving.

After some evidence of promise from a previous quasi-experimental matched design evaluation, conducted by The Brilliant Club, the EEF planned this efficacy trial.

The aim was to examine the impact of English Mastery on participating students’ English attainment via the GL Progress Test in English. However, the 2020 partial school closures caused by the Covid-19 pandemic meant that it was not possible to undertake the impact evaluation as planned, with students’ assessments under the required school-based conditions.

Implementation and process evaluation activities undertaken show that the programme was viewed positively by the majority of treatment school teachers who responded to the endline survey. They reported that the use of English Mastery reduced planning and marking workload and were satisfied with the training and support they received to deliver the curriculum. However not all treatment schools were able to implement the programme as intended due to disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Prior to home learning schools adhered mostly to model fidelity by making use of all three curriculum strands (Literary Heritage, Mastery Writing and Reading for Pleasure, although model fidelity was lowest for Reading for Pleasure). However, adherence to co-planning and formative and summative assessments was mixed.

The EEF has funded a new efficacy trial of English Mastery as part of the Accelerator Fund.