The RISE Project: Evidence-informed school improvement

Research leads Improving Students’ Education (RISE) aimed to improve the Maths and English attainment of pupils in Years 10 and 11 using a research-informed school improvement model. The programme was developed and delivered by Huntington School, a comprehensive secondary school in York. Each school participating in RISE appointed a senior teacher as a Research Lead who was responsible for promoting the use of research throughout the school. The project was jointly funded by the Education Endowment Foundation and the Department for Education, supported by the Mayor of London’s Schools Excellence Fund, as part of a funding round testing innovative approaches to supporting schools’ use of research.

The RISE Project: Evidence-informed school improvement

Huntington School

Research leads Improving Students' Education (RISE) project will work through a structured school improvement process, involving external research and evaluation.

Evidence Strength
Impact (months)
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Key Stage 4

Key stage

EEF Summary

The EEF funded this project as it presented a promising model for supporting teachers to use research evidence. The staff at Huntington School had previously demonstrated expertise in using research to inform their own practice. The school had piloted an evidence-informed school improvement model in 2013, focused on testing different approaches to feedback across Year 9 English classes. The RISE programme aimed to develop this expertise in other local schools by training a Research Lead to advocate for research use and develop an evidence-informed school culture. The independent evaluation found that participating in two years of the RISE programme did not have a positive impact on pupil attainment at GCSE. This result has high security. The process evaluation of RISE suggests that implementation was stronger when the Research Leads had certain attributes, including strong relationships with other colleagues in the school and a good understanding of the school’s attainment data. It also highlights the importance of schools’ ability and motivation to make use of the Research Lead in shaping school improvement decisions and processes. For example, it suggests that implementation was stronger when headteachers gave clear and visible support for the project and Research Leads had additional ring-fenced time to undertake the role.

The findings are consistent with a number of EEF-funded research-use projects, which have informed the EEF’s ongoing efforts to support evidence-based practice throughout the education system. Alongside our work generating and communicating evidence, the EEF is increasing its focus on helping schools translate and apply research evidence in their context. For example, the EEF’s guidance on effective implementation provides support for how to implement evidence-informed decisions, whilst the Research Schools’ training programme, Leading Learning, aims to develop schools’ understanding and application of effective professional development.

The EEF has no plans for a further trial of RISE but will continue to consider other projects which aim to support the use of research.

Research Results

GCSE Mathematics (1 year of intervention)

Months' Progress
Evidence Strength

GCSE English (1 year of intervention)

Months' Progress
Evidence Strength

GCSE Mathematics (2 years of intervention)

Months' Progress
Evidence Strength

GCSE English (2 years of intervention)

Months' Progress
Evidence Strength

Were the schools in the trial similar to my school?

  • There were 40 schools involved in the trial 
  • 29 schools were either good or outstanding
  • 18 schools were either an academy or free school
  • 19 schools had more than 200 students at the end of KS4
  • On average in schools delivering RISE, 26% of students were eligible for FSM
  • On average in schools delivering RISE, 5% of pupils spoke English as an additional language

Could I implement this in my school?

Support for Research Leads included an initial eight CPD sessions held over 8 months, termly follow-up meetings over two academic years, a bespoke email newsletter, a website with resources, a peer network, and school visits by the RISE team. The RISE team also provided a workshop for headteachers and annual workshops for English and Mathematics subject leads. 

The process evaluation suggested that the implementation of RISE was more successful when Research Leads had developed strong relationships within the school, headteachers gave clear and visible support for implementation, Research Leads had additional ring-fenced time to undertake the role, there was a strong link between the Research Lead and the school’s Teaching and Learning Co-ordinator, and Research Leads had a solid understanding of their school’s attainment data.


School Leaders

Delivered by


Whole School

Participant group


2 Years

Intervention length

How much will it cost?

The average cost of the programme is £0.86 per pupil per year when averaged over 3 years.



Cost per pupil



No. of Teachers/TAs


13 Days

Training time per staff member

Evaluation info





Key Stage

Key Stage 4

Start date

June 2014

End date

May 2019

Type of trial

Efficacy Trial

Evaluation Conclusions

  1. For both the one-year and two-year cohorts, children in RISE schools made a small amount of additional progress in mathematics and English compared to children in the comparison schools. This result has a high security rating. The differences were small and not statistically significant. This means that the statistical evidence does not meet the threshold set by the evaluator to conclude that the true impact was not zero. 

  2. There was no evidence that RISE had an impact on the outcomes of pupils eligible for free school meals.

  3. The intervention was considered appropriate and helpful by the participating schools. Uptake by schools and attendance at the intervention training was high and sustained over the 30 months of the intervention.

  4. Schools’ adoption of the research-informed school improvement model was highly variable and influenced by schools’ context and relationships, and the stability of the Research Lead role. The teacher in the role of Research Lead changed in 40% of the schools during the project.

  5. Key conditions for success in implementing the intervention included choosing a well-respected Research Lead with strong relationships in the school, visible support from the Headteacher, and ring-fenced time for the Research Lead to work on the project.

  1. Updated: 2nd May, 2019

    Printable project summary

    1 MB pdf - EEF-the-rise-project-evidence-informed-school-improvement.pdf

  2. Updated: 2nd May, 2019

    Evaluation Report

    2 MB pdf - RISE_Report_final.pdf

  3. Updated: 25th October, 2017

    Project protocol

    569 KB pdf - Research_Use_-_Huntingdon_RISE.pdf

  4. Updated: 23rd February, 2018

    Statistical Analysis Plan (SAP)

    617 KB pdf - Huntingdon_SAP_18.02.14__FINAL.pdf

Full project description