Education Endowment Foundation:Thinking, Doing, Talking Science (re-grant)

Thinking, Doing, Talking Science (re-grant)

The Oxford Trust
Implementation costThe cost estimates in the Toolkits are based on the average cost of delivering the intervention.
Evidence strengthThis rating provides an overall estimate of the robustness of the evidence, to help support professional decision-making in schools.
Impact (months)The impact measure shows the number of additional months of progress made, on average, by children and young people who received the intervention, compared to similar children and young people who did not.
Project info

Independent Evaluator

American Institutes for Research logo
American Institutes for Research

Testing the impact of a programme that aims to make primary science more practical, creative and conceptually challenging

Pupils: 8966 Schools: 205 Grant: £780,045
Key Stage: 2 Duration: 2 year(s) 3 month(s) Type of Trial: Effectiveness Trial
Completed December 2018

This page covers the second (effectiveness) trial of Thinking, Doing, Talking Science, testing a scalable model under everyday conditions in a large number of schools. To read about the first (efficacy) trial – testing whether it could work in schools under best possible conditions – click here. To read about the second effectiveness trial, testing the model using an updated train-the-trainer model – click here.

Thinking, Doing, Talking Science (TDTS) is a professional development programme designed to improve Year 5 science outcomes by making science lessons more effective. Teachers are trained to develop and teach challenging lessons that incorporate more practical activities, deeper thinking and discussion, and enquiry-based learning.

Thinking, Doing, Talking Science (TDTS)

In 2012, the EEF funded a trial of TDTS in 40 schools. Year 5 pupils whose teachers received five days of TDTS training over the course of a year were compared with Year 5 pupils whose teachers did not.

The TDTS pupils made three additional months’ progress, on average, in science, with a particularly positive effect for girls and pupils with low prior attainment. The programme appeared to have a positive impact on attitudes to science and there were also some indications that the approach was particularly beneficial for pupils eligible for free school meals.

Following these results, the EEF funded a larger evaluation of a new scalable version of TDTS. This second trial took place in 205 schools, with Year 5 teachers receiving the TDTS training over four days rather than five. It found no evidence of an impact on pupils’ science attainment, on average. However, among children eligible for free school meals, those in the TDTS schools made a small amount of additional progress in science. The trial also found evidence that pupil interest in, and self-efficacy towards, science increased

There were some important differences between the two models of TDTS – introduced to ensure the programme could be scalable – which might explain the different results. The second, larger trial used a different delivery model for the teacher training. Rather than doing the training directly, the programme developer recruited new trainers, who were trained to deliver the TDTS programme to teachers. The team delivering the teacher training were therefore doing so for the first time, unlike in the original, smaller trial. Teachers in the second trial also received four days of training rather than five, and funding for two additional days of preparation per teacher (in the form of cover costs) was cut

Given the positive attainment results from the first trial, and the promising outcomes for pupils eligible for free school meals in the second trial, alongside the positive impacts on attitudes, TDTS will remain on the EEF promising project list. The EEF will explore options for a scalable model that maintains the impact seen in the first trial. 

  1. There is no evidence that TDTS had an impact on pupils’ science knowledge attainment, on average. This result has a high security rating.
  2. Among children receiving free school meals, those in TDTS schools made a small amount of additional progress compared to those in other schools. However, this finding is not statistically significant”. This means that the statistical evidence supporting the impact finding does not meet the threshold set by the evaluator to be convincing.
  3. The programme led to small increases in pupil interest in science and self-efficacy for science, as measured by pupil surveys.
  4. Teachers who received TDTS training reported confidence in their understanding of, and ability to apply, the strategies they had learned. They felt that those strategies required minimal extra time to implement.
ImpactThe size of the difference between pupils in this trial and other pupils
SecurityHow confident are we in this result?
Months' progress
Effect size 0
Science (FSM)
Months' progress
Effect size 0