Education Endowment Foundation:Focus4TAPS (2024/25 trial)

Focus4TAPS (2024/25 trial)

Bath Spa University

Trial to test the impact of Focus4TAPS, a year-long professional development programme that aims to improve teaching approaches and assessment in primary science.

Independent Evaluator

NatCen

Sign-up deadline

31 May, 2024 at 12:00am

Key Stages

Key Stage 2

School places

300

Regions available

Eligibility

Participating staff must be able to travel to face-to-face training in one of the delivery areas.

The Focus for Teacher Assessment in Primary Science (Focus4TAPS) programme provides three days of professional development for science subject leaders and Year 5 teachers, with in-school tasks in between, over the course of an academic year. The programme supports teachers to use assessment for learning in their classrooms, with a particular focus on assessing practical inquiry tasks to help pupils develop scientific reasoning skills and the use of self and peer-assessment to develop pupils’ metacognitive skills.

The school science subject leader and a Year 5 class teacher attend the face-to-face training. The three days are spread across the academic year. The Year 5 teacher and science subject lead then use the approaches in their classes straightaway and throughout the year. The programme provides resources and activities for teachers to use, and teachers are encouraged to apply the principles so that the approaches become embedded in their teaching.

Who can take part?

Any school with Year 5 pupils that is based in the areas listed below that:

  • Has not previously participated in TAPS training
  • Is not involved in the Thinking Doing Talking Science EEF-funded trial
  • Is not involved in the Primary Science Quality Mark EEF-funded trial

Wider evidence demonstrates the importance of formative use of assessment, an area that teachers find difficult to implement. The Teacher Assessment in Primary Science (TAPS) team developed and piloted the resources and approach over several years. That development included qualitative research that suggested teachers improved their assessments following TAPS training, and increased their use of practical activities in science.

A previous EEF independent evaluation found that pupils in Year 5 who received Focus4TAPS made an average of +2 months’ additional progress in science compared to children in comparison schools. The teachers who took part in Focus4TAPS reported, on average, higher confidence than those in the comparison group for many aspects of teaching and assessing science. Together, these findings are promising for impact on pupils in Year 5.

Since that trial, Bath Spa University has developed a more scalable model to deliver to a larger number of schools. This includes training new trainers who will deliver to schools as part of this effectiveness trial. This trial will test whether a scalable version of the training and resources can produce similar results.

This project will be evaluated by the National Centre for Social Research through a randomised controlled trial, randomised at school level. This means that schools that sign up are randomly assigned to one of two groups: the intervention group, who implement the Focus4TAPS programme; or the control group, where practice continues as normal. This is the best way to find out the impact of the programme being tested. Schools assigned to the control group get thank you payments for taking part in the evaluation activities, as they’re crucial for allowing the evaluators to make a good estimate of the programme’s impact. 

The evaluation will be an effectiveness trial, meaning it will assess the impact of Focus4TAPS on pupils’ science attainment. It will also evaluate the impact of Focus4TAPS on pupils’ attitudes towards science.

An implementation and process evaluation will be conducted alongside the impact evaluation to explore how schools implement the programme and perceptions of Focus4TAPS.

The evaluation report will be published in Summer 2026.