Education Endowment Foundation:Power of Pictures

Power of Pictures

Centre for Literacy in Primary Education
Implementation cost
Evidence strength
Impact (months)
+1
months
Project info

Independent Evaluator

Behavioural Insights logo
Behavioural Insights
The Institute of Education logo
The Institute of Education
Using picture books and illustration to improve pupils’ literacy
Pupils: 1800 Schools: 120 Grant: £104,018
Key Stage: 2 Duration: 2 year(s) 7 month(s) Type of Trial: Efficacy Trial
Completed December 2019

Power of Pictures (PoP) is a children’s reading and writing programme provided to English schools by the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE).

The version of PoP evaluated in this trial aims to raise children’s (Year 5 pupils’) reading and writing skills by enhancing teachers’ understanding of the power of picturebooks and increasing teachers’ comfort and ability in teaching using picturebooks.

PoP comprises of teacher training delivered directly from the author-illustrator of a picturebook that will be taught in schools. Pupils also meet PoP programme deliverers and the author-illustrator of the picturebook that they will be studying during a half day workshop, focussing on character design and the development of narratives. Teachers then support pupils to develop their own picturebook stories, inspired by the workshop.

This evaluation is part of a round of funding between the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and the Royal Society of Arts to test the impact of different cultural learning strategies in English schools entitled Learning about Culture’. These projects have been independently evaluated by a collaboration between the UCL Institute of Education and the Behavioural Insights Team who have also produced an overarching report to draw together learning from all five trials within the round.

A previous research report on Power of Pictures examined the programme through course observations, surveys of participating teachers, a review of materials, and interviews with author-illustrators. This study found that teachers and author-illustrators perceived the programme as have lasting effects on pupils. This evaluation is the first randomised controlled trial (RCT) evaluating the effectiveness of the programme in improving writing skills, writing self-efficacy and writing creativity (ideation), as well as exploring the level at which pupils and teachers engaged with the programme.

Our trial of the Power of Picture programme involved 2,674 pupils in 101 schools. The independent evaluation found that pupils taking part in the PoP programme made, on average, one months’ additional progress in writing ability (the primary outcome), compared to children in the usual practice control group. These results have a moderate security rating: 3 out of 5 on the EEF padlock scale. However, as with any study, there is uncertainty around the result: the possible impact of this programme on reading attainment ranges from one month less progress to positive effects of three additional months of progress.

The evaluation found that the programme had a positive effect on children’s writing self-efficacy and writing creativity. The visual element of the programme was also seen to attract learners who may have traditionally struggled to engage with literacy activities.

The EEF currently has no plans for a further trial of the Power of Pictures Programme.

  1. Pupils who received the Power of Pictures (PoP) programme had, on average, higher writing scores (equivalent to one month of additional progress) as compared to children in the control group. This is our best estimate of impact which has a moderate to high security rating. However, as with any study, there is uncertainty around the result: the possible impact of this programme on reading attainment ranges from one month less progress to positive effects of three additional months of progress.
  2. Among children eligible for free school meals (FSM), those in schools that PoP was delivered in also made one additional month’s progress. These results may have a lower security rating than the overall findings because of the smaller number of pupils in this group.
  3. Children in PoP schools had higher writing self-efficacy and writing creativity (ideation) scores than those from schools in which the programme was not taught. These differences suggest that PoP may have a positive impact on these outcomes.
  4. The visual element of this programme attracted learners who traditionally have difficulties engaging in literacy activities.
  5. Teachers reported high levels of engagement with the programme, not only from the pupils and themselves, but also from the senior leadership team (SLT) at their schools. This said, implementing PoP was perceived to be very time intensive.
Outcome/​Group
ImpactThe size of the difference between pupils in this trial and other pupils
SecurityHow confident are we in this result?
Writing score (all pupils)
+1
Months' progress
Writing score (FSM pupils)
+1
Months' progress