Grammar for Writing

This page covers the first (efficacy) trial of Grammar for Writing, which tested whether it could work in schools under best possible conditions. To read about the second (effectiveness) trial - testing a scalable model under everyday conditions in a large number of schools - click here.

Grammar for Writing aims to improve writing by helping pupils to understand how ‘linguistic structures’ convey meaning. Grammatical rules are taught in the context of particular writing genres (such as narrative fiction, persuasive writing), rather than in the abstract. The programme can be delivered in small groups or to the whole class, and this evaluation looks at the impacts of both models. 

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Literacy

Subject

accessibility

Key Stage 2

Key stage

EEF Summary

In 2012, the EEF funded a number of programmes, designed to improve literacy outcomes for pupils at the transition from primary to secondary school. Grammar for Writing was chosen for this because previous evaluations have found that grammar interventions can have a positive impact on writing skills.

The first evaluation found some evidence of promise. Despite its short duration (4 weeks), it had a small positive impact when delivered to the whole class, and a larger impact when delivered to small groups – although this second result may have been due to the small group work rather than the intervention itself.

Following these results, the EEF funded a larger evaluation of a scalable version of GfW. This second evaluation focused solely on the whole-class version of GfW and on Year 6 pupils rather than pupils at the transition. It was also delivered over 6 weeks rather than 4. It found no evidence of an impact on pupils’ writing outcomes.

The difference in results between the two evaluations might be the result of the differences in delivery described above. It might also be partly due to implementation problems during the second trial: while teachers were generally satisfied with the programme, many adapted or left out key components such as using classroom discussions to explore the effects of grammatical choices.

Given uncertainty around the impact in the first evaluation and the lack of impact in the second, the EEF will be removing Grammar for Writing from the list of promising projects. We continue to be interested in grammar-based approaches to writing. 

Research Results

Writing (whole class)

+2
Months' Progress
Evidence Strength

Writing (small group)

+3
Months' Progress
Evidence Strength

Were the schools in the trial similar to my school?

Fifty-three schools took part in the project. Around a third of pupils in the project were eligible for free school meals and forty percent had English as an additional language. 

Could I implement this in my school?

The Grammar for Writing approach is not currently available to schools. The EEF is testing a scalable approach that could be made available to schools across the country. 

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Teachers

Delivered by

group

Parents

Participant group

date_range

4 Weeks

Intervention length

How much will it cost?

The cost of initial training was £700 per school. The total cost is estimated at £20 per pupil, including salary costs. 

£

£20

Cost per pupil

today

3 Days

Training time per staff member

Evaluation info

Schools

53

Pupils

2,510

Key Stage

Key Stage 2

Start date

June 2013

End date

December 2014

Type of trial

Effectiveness Trial

Evaluation Conclusions

  1. Grammar for Writing is not effective in improving general writing among Year 6 pupils when delivered as a whole class intervention over four weeks.

  2. Grammar for Writing is modestly effective in improving writing as a small group intervention, although this is likely to be a result of small group teaching, rather than an intrinsic benefit of Grammar for Writing itself.

  3. The evidence for Grammar for Writing from this evaluation is insufficient to recommend widespread adoption among Year 6 pupils.

  4. Small group teaching amongst Levels 3c to 4b pupils does seem an effective strategy to increase writing skills.

  5. Possible further research question: Is small group teaching for children at Levels 3c to 4b effective and costeffective over a longer time period?


  1. Updated: 8th May, 2019

    Printable project summary

    1 MB pdf - EEF-grammar-for-writing.pdf

  2. Updated: 8th May, 2019

    Evaluation Report

    1 MB pdf - Grammar_for_Writing_2014.pdf

  3. Updated: 12th June, 2017

    Evaluation Protocol

    431 KB pdf - Regrant_-_Grammar_for_Writing_effectiveness.pdf

Full project description

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