Education Endowment Foundation:Evidence for the Frontline

Evidence for the Frontline

Sandringham School, IEE
Implementation cost 
Evidence strengthNot given for this trial
Impact (months)Not given for this trial
Project info

Independent Evaluator

NFER logo
Developing and piloting an evidence brokerage service for schools
Schools: 31 Grant: £159,586
Key Stage: 1, 2, 3, 4 Duration: 1 year(s) 2 month(s) Type of Trial: Pilot Study
Completed July 2016

Evidence for the Frontline (E4F) is an online brokerage service designed to provide teachers and school leaders with timely access to relevant evidence on supporting young people’s learning. It was developed by Sandringham School and the Institute for Effective Education (IEE) at The University of York, with support from the Coalition for Evidence Based Education (CEBE).

Teachers and school leaders develop their own questions about improving teaching and learning and post them on the online platform. An online broker then matches the question to an academic researcher for a response; or signposts the teachers to relevant published evidence and answers already provided by the service. In some cases the broker supports the user to frame their question most effectively before passing it on. Examples of the research questions included: Are there any studies that set out to explicitly explore the influence that inter-school collaboration has on student outcomes?’; and Is there any evidence to suggest that students perform better if their Science teacher is teaching within their Science specialism up to Key Stage 4?’

After a development phase, involving representatives from 12 schools, the service was delivered as a pilot in 32 schools (14 primary, 16 secondary and 2 special schools) between September 2015 and July 2016. The aim of the evaluation was to establish: whether the intervention is feasible to deliver; whether it has promise in terms of changing teacher attitudes and behaviour; and whether the service is suitable for evaluation in a randomised controlled trial.


Is there evidence to support the theory of change?

Yes – in terms of formative findings.

There was evidence which identified perceived benefits and positive outcomes from using E4F but it should be noted that a large minority (around a fifth) of respondents did not report evidence of pupil learning improvements. Interviews indicated that this was because it was too early to say whether pupil outcomes were improving.

Was the approach feasible?

Yes, as a pilot. Mixed going forwards

Although the majority of users and academics were positive about their experience of using the service, further development is needed to increase the speed of providing answers, enhance awareness of the brokerage role, and encourage greater dialogue between teachers and researchers.

Is the approach ready to be evaluated in a trial?


E4F is not suitable for trial because it does not offer a defined outcome measure for pupils. It may be possible to use the Research Use factor measures as secondary outcomes, but results for the two measures tested in this study were mixed and work would be needed to develop Research Use measures before a future trial.