Hundreds of schools are sought for trial projects


Four hundred schools are being sought to take part in trials of new strategies to raise the attainment of disadvantaged students.

The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) has funded five new trials to the tune of £4.1 million and they are to focus on maths education, using research effectively and assessment, among other areas.

One trial will tackle pupils’ misconceptions and reservations about algebra and fractions and will involve 120 secondary schools. Nottingham and Durham universities are to deliver the Increasing Competence and Confidence in Algebra and Multiplicative Structures (ICCAMS) trial and will target year 7 and 8 pupils.

The trial will be based on formative assessment, with teachers using evidence of pupils’ prior attainment to identify individual errors and problems. 

ICCAMS provides teachers with 40 research-informed lessons to help them give feedback in a way that boosts students’ confidence and competence in solving maths problems.

The EEF funding will also support another maths trial, this one of a primary programme aimed at vulnerable pupils at key stage 2 in 30 schools.

A third trial will see Sandringham School in Hertfordshire working with the Institute for Effective Education and the Coalition for Evidence-Based Education to pilot “Evidence for the Frontline” in 30 schools. The scheme aims to bridge the gap between academic research and its practical use in the classroom. The idea is that teachers and school leaders can submit a question online or call a helpline and speak to a “trained broker” who will support them in making evidence-based decisions in their schools,  directing them to either web-based resources, researchers engaged in the field, or practitioners who have already addressed their question.

The fourth trial, Embedding Formative Assessment, is a two-year CPD programme for teachers that will work with 120 secondary schools to deliver 18 internal workshops and develop “teacher learning communities” for small groups of staff from across all subjects. 

It has been developed by Professor Dylan Wiliam in partnership with SSAT and takes a whole-school approach to embed formative assessment through workshops, research and on-going collaboration.

The fifth trial will test the attainment benefits of the Families and Schools Together (FAST) parental engagement programme, and it is to be run in 120 primary schools by Save the Children in partnership with Middlesex University. 

The results of all five trials will be added to the EEF’s Teaching and Learning Toolkit, which outlines a range of intervention strategies, their effectiveness and their cost.

Dr Kevan Collins, EEF chief executive, said: “We know that effective teaching and parental engagement have a positive impact on educational achievement, particularly for the most disadvantaged children. In our drive to raise standards, it’s so important that we find out the best methods to do this. The trials we’ve announced will add to a growing body of evidence and a much-valued resource that school leaders can draw on to improve the educational achievement of our most disadvantaged pupils.”

For information on these projects and all the EEF research work, visit



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