Education Endowment Foundation:ThinkForward


Private Equity Foundation
Implementation cost 
Evidence strengthNot given for this trial
Impact (months)Not given for this trial
Project info

Independent Evaluator

Sheffield Hallam University logo
Sheffield Hallam University
University of Essex logo
University of Essex
Testing the impact of one to one coaching for at-risk 14 – 16 year olds.
Schools: 2 Grant: 316224
Key Stage: 3, 4 Duration: 2 year(s) Type of Trial: Pilot Study
Completed January 2015

ThinkForward is a coaching programme, developed by Impetus Private Equity Foundation, which is designed to support secondary school pupils. ThinkForward is targeted at pupils who have been identified as being at high risk of not being in education, employment or training (NEET) following the completion of compulsory education. Coaches are assigned to schools and work with selected pupils as they progress through Key Stage 4 (GCSEs), with the aim of supporting them to make a successful transition into adulthood. The programme provides targeted support tailored to pupils’ needs through one-to-one and group work. The programme usually works with young people aged 14 – 19, though this pilot focused only on the intervention up to age 16, prior to pupils leaving school. The pilot involved Year 10 and 11 pupils in four London secondary schools, beginning in January 2014. The Y11 pupils received up to six months of ThinkForward until their GCSEs in summer 2014. The Y10 pupils received up to 18 months of ThinkForward up until their GCSEs in summer 2015.

The pilot was evaluated using a range of qualitative methods and a small Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT). The aims of the evaluation were to determine whether a future large-scale evaluation was possible, and to gain an initial estimate of the programme’s impact on GCSE scores, the likelihood of continuing into post-compulsory education, and decreasing pupil absences. Randomisation took place at both school and pupil level. Within the two randomly assigned intervention schools, eligible pupils were randomly allocated either to an intervention group or a within-school control group. Across the four schools, there were 181 pupils in the Y11 cohort, 40 of whom received the intervention, and 160 pupils in the Y10 cohort, 37 of whom received the intervention.


Is there evidence of promise?

No / Unclear.

Evidence of impact was not found across any of the four outcome areas.

Was the approach feasible?


The process evaluation found positive comments from the students and staff involved in the approach.

Is the approach ready to be evaluated in a trial?

Not yet.

The pilot found methodological challenges around data collection, and spillover, which make a within-school trial unsuitable. The approach is not ready for a large school-level RCT.