Education Endowment Foundation:SMART Spaces (revision programme pilot)

SMART Spaces (revision programme pilot)

Hallam Teaching School Alliance
Project info

Independent Evaluator

Queen's University Belfast logo
Queen’s University Belfast
A teaching approach where content is intensively taught multiple times with breaks in between.
Schools: 15 Grant: £357,720.0
Key Stage: 3 Duration: 1 year(s) 6 month(s) Type of Trial: Pilot Study
Completed July 2016

This page covers the first SMART Spaces project, a pilot testing a revision programme. To read about the second project (a trial of this approach and a pilot of a teaching approach) – click here.

This report describes the development and pilot evaluation of SMART Spaces. This programme aims to boost GCSE science outcomes by applying the principle that information is more easily learnt when it is repeated multiple times, with time passing between the repetitions. This approach is known as spaced learning’ and is contrasted with a massed learning’ approach, where content is learnt all at once with no spacing. The development of the programme was led by a team from the Hallam Teaching School Alliance (HTSA). SMART Spaces prepares Year 9 and 10 students for GCSE examinations at the end of Year 10. Teachers were trained to deliver three lessons focused on chemistry, physics, and biology curriculum content, which were repeated over three consecutive days. Pupils did an unrelated physical activity in the spaces between intensive repetitions of science content. Teachers received one day of training and were provided with PowerPoint slides to deliver during the lessons.

The Centre for Evidence and Social Innovation (CESI) at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) worked with HTSA to develop SMART Spaces, test its feasibility, and test three different approaches to arranging the spaced learning across the three days.

This project was jointly funded by the EEF and Wellcome Trust as part of the Education and Neuroscience partnership.


Is there evidence to support the theory of change?


The spaced learning principle is supported by evidence from both the cognitive science and neuroscience literature. The version which combined ten-minute and 24-hour spaces appeared to be the most promising. However, a larger trial is required before drawing any firm conclusions about the effectiveness of SMART Spaces.

Was the approach feasible?


The programme was delivered successfully and was acceptable to both teachers and pupils.

Is the approach ready to be evaluated in a trial?


SMART Spaces is a well-defined and scalable programme that is ready for an efficacy randomised controlled trial (RCT).