The transition from primary to secondary school is known to be worrying for many pupils. They have to adapt to a more challenging school setting with different academic structures and expectations. They have to interact with new teachers and peers leaving behind what is known, secure  and routine . A significant minority of pupils experience a range of difficulties in adjusting to secondary school ,evidenced by a drop in performance, unreliable attendance, behaviour problems and increased anxiety.

But its often forgotten that the  social and academic challenges for pupils are just as real in the transition from secondary school to college and Higher Education. Young people are moving from one familiar learning environment to another very different one, requiring a different set of skills.  For example: self-belief, self-reflection, resilience,  critical thinking, independent learning  and,  crucially, management of expectations.

Many, particularly from the most disadvantaged cohort, are ill prepared for it.

A recent Roundtable this month,  hosted by Sir Anthony Seldon, Vice Chancellor of University of Buckingham , chaired  by Mary Curnock Cook,  looked  at the issues affecting students   in this transition. Sir Anthony  said that in his over 20 years of running secondary schools it had become very clear to him that there was a signal lack of connectivity and understanding between the secondary and Higher Education sectors. Schools don’t think that what happens in Universities has much to do with them, and vice versa.  However, nothing could be further from the truth.  Research for his booklet for the Social Market Foundation ’Solving the Conundrum: Teaching and learning at British universities’ revealed very low levels of knowledge and interest from HEIs in what is actually happening in schools. Dr Harriet Jones, of UEA,  has developed a particular interest in students transition from sixth forms/colleges to Universities, developing  Pre-University courses for students  which are used in over 300 schools to help prepare  students  for this transition.

Dr Jones said there was an obvious   chronic mismatch between what students expected from university study and what they actually experienced.  Surveys have shown that students, before they go to university, really don’t think  much about the academic challenges and transition that they face and what skills they may require to cope with their course work at university – instead, they think almost entirely about the social transition.  You have to understand young people’s perceptions and expectations to have a deeper understanding of the nature of the challenges they face in transition.  For example, a survey referenced by Dr Jones ,  found that 80% of those young people surveyed thought that all their university work would get personal feedback from a tutor and a similar percentage thought that a tutor would look at the first draft of their work.  So, differing expectations are a consistent and widespread problem.  Other Surveys, including the NSS, make it abundantly clear that young people believe that Universities are not delivering what they expected they would deliver.  This disjunction between their expectations and what they actually experience, needs to be addressed pro-actively.  A better and deeper shared understanding between students and universities has to be developed. .  They need to be informed – ie, this is what will happen in your first year and this is how you can  prepare for it. . Sixth formers are not being told what university is like and how it differs from the school learning environment.  In schools they are programmed to be taught by teachers to pass the test and exams.  The system is assessment driven.  That is what they are used to and prepared for.  At University it’s a  different learning environment. More of a partnership model where individuals need  agency and self-efficacy,   working with their tutors to develop as learners, needing  more  self-motivation  and initiative  and without the disciplined structure afforded by a school environment.

So, if there is a different approach to teaching and learning why don’t we better prepare young people for it?  And who should take responsibility? The answer is probably both schools and universities.

There are worries that a lack of funding in schools, colleges and sixth forms  is serving to narrow the curriculum offer,  further making it  even less likely that pupils will have the skills they need when they arrive in higher education. So there is surely scope  for universities to  step up to the plate on this and perhaps dedicate  some of their outreach funds to address this challenge.

Through Pre-University study courses and support in the first year at University there are a range of interventions that can help. But we first have to acknowledge that a problem exists. The Brilliant Club  has been doing some interesting work in this area. In seeking  to increase the number of pupils from under-represented backgrounds (those on Pupil Premium etc) progressing to highly-selective universities , it mobilises the PhD community to share its academic expertise with state schools through its Scholars Programme and Researchers in Schools,  running academic enrichment programmes. Students do apparently get a real sense of what will be required of them from people who have been through the process who act as mentors.

Dr Jones suggested that good sixth form preparation for HE, might include, for example

  • 3 A Levels
  • An Extended Project Qualification (EPQ)
  • Core Maths
  • Pre-University skills course


Much  more clearly needs to be done . To be fair some universities are already on  the case, but  the time has come for a more structured systematic  and coherent approach.  It  needs more  leadership from  the sector,   resources and  political backing,   to gain real momentum .


The Gatsby Benchmarks and the Careers Strategy

The Government is under increasing pressure to publish its long awaited  careers strategy. It has promised to release the  strategy ’ this autumn’. The ‘Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’  is upon us.The clock ticking.  Pressure is also mounting for it to have a more inclusive approach to the so-called Gatsby benchmarks ,produced by Sir John Holman which define the key concurrent  activities required to deliver high quality Careers Guidance. Ministers and the Careers and Enterprise Company consistently champion just two of the eight benchmarks, covering work experience and engagement with employers,   largely to the exclusion of the other six . It is widely accepted that the benchmarks are interdependent and mutually supportive, so that if just some activities take place, then the impact on outcomes will be diminished. The current narrative around careers guidance, particularly articulated   by Ministers, focuses almost entirely on the activities of the Careers and Enterprise company, and largely ignores what is happening through the National Careers Service and through other professional careers guidance  providers,  partnerships and hubs where there are many examples of outstanding practice often  confirmed  by Ofsted inspections. We should be acknowledging and   building on this best practice

Recently, the Minister Robert Goodwill in response to a PQ from Gordon Marsden, Labours Skills and HE spokesman said’  ‘The careers strategy will include proposals to improve the quality and coverage of careers advice in schools. These proposals will be informed by evidence regarding what works. The Gatsby benchmarks are based on the best national and international research and define excellence in careers provision. A two year pilot of the Gatsby benchmarks in the North East has demonstrated that significant improvements can be made.’ These improvements relied on an inclusive approach to the Benchmarks.

As the Minister stated Schools and colleges within the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP) were selected in 2015 to pilot a new national careers guidance framework. This was  designed to encourage the next generation of young people to make fully informed decisions and to begin to equip them with the skills employers need. The pilot involved two years of intensive careers activity with schools, colleges and local businesses and is  including   four years of data collection, gathered and analysed by an independent evaluator, who will report on the impact of the national pilot in terms of student outcomes and progression into higher education, apprenticeships or employment. Ryan Gibson, National Facilitator for the Good Career Guidance Benchmarks Pilot at the NE LEP, said in June this year :

“The programme has been transformational in terms of improving students’ access to careers education and helping them develop the skills employers need. The initiatives the North East LEP has developed as part of the Career Guidance Benchmarks pilot have improved collaboration between the business community and the education sector, as well as provide teaching staff with workplace training and personal development opportunities to better equip them with the knowledge and skills to provide effective careers advice to students.”

Its pretty obvious that the government needs to focus on what works on the ground, learn from it , build on it and that the  resources that are available  should be directed to this end. At the moment this just isnt happening, to the frustration  of professional  guidance practitioners and to the cost of  people, including  many of our youngest and  most disadvantaged students  , seeking to make informed  career choices.Hopefully,  the Ministers reply , referencing the benchmarks  and evidence of what works represents  a nuanced  shift in policy. But dont hold your breath!

Eight Gatsby Benchmarks

A stable careers programme

Learning from career and labour market information

Addressing the needs of each pupil

Linking curriculum learning to careers

Encounters with employers and employees

Experiences of workplaces

Encounters with further and higher education

Personal guidance



See also  John Yarhams article in FE News October 2017

FE News

Knowledge, the Curriculum and the Substance of Education


A joint pamphlet has just been published by ASCL and Parents and Teachers for Excellence (PTE)- The Question of Knowledge- practicalities of a knowledge-based curriculum’. It reiterates just  how important the curriculum is , and how it is increasingly  seen as central to education reforms, reinforced by  the backdrop of recent speeches and commentaries from Ofsteds Amanda  Spielman, in  which she has made  it clear how much she rates the importance of  the curriculum –“One of the areas that I think we sometimes lose sight of is the real substance of education. Not the exam grades or the progress scores, important though they are, but instead the real meat of what is taught in our schools and colleges: the curriculum.”(23 June 2017)

There has long been debate about what the curriculum in schools should look like and offer . With Nick Gibb as Schools Minister there is much promotion of the knowledge based curriculum, heavily influenced by the thinking and teachings of ED Hirsch. Gibb firmly believes that the pendulum has now  swung  towards knowledge,  and away from skills .The alternative   ‘progressive’ view of the curriculum  is that it  should be more about skills development and cross cutting thematic approaches, in which core  content is more about  activities and skills,  fitted  specifically to the  needs of the 21st century , rather than relying so much  on traditional,  detailed subject-based content ,and the need for memorisation that goes with it.

Leora Cruddas ,until recently  Director of Policy and Public Relations, ASCL, now Chief Executive of FASNA ,  says of ED Hirsch “The influence of E. D. Hirsch on educational thinking has been profound. At its heart is the idea that returning to a traditional, academic curriculum built on shared knowledge is the best way to achieve social justice in society. His work has also encouraged schools to focus on the concept of building cultural capital as a way to close the attainment gap.”

This booklet arises from a series of lectures, publications and public panels in England over the last two years on the subject of the knowledge curriculum.’ The centre right think tank Policy Exchange for example  published a pamphlet on Hirsch  in 2015 (see link)  When PTE and ASCL decided that they wanted to commission and publish this booklet, their  aim , apparently,  ‘ was to give a voice to the many educators who have attempted to answer these questions in their schools. We hope it is a useful contribution, particularly for those school leaders who are looking to explore the question of knowledge and the practicalities of a knowledge-based curriculum.’

Michaela Katib, Head of Cobham School, articulates the thinking behind the knowledge based curriculum well when she says  “ We believe that students need a knowledge-based curriculum to ensure they have solid foundations across a range of subject areas. We feel that a structured, well-planned curriculum, which offers appropriate progression and builds on prior learning, is the best way to prepare students for success in public examinations and equip them for their future careers.” And she introduces an important caveat “ The focus on imparting knowledge does not mean that we dismiss the value of pupils acquiring skills and, indeed, we feel that schools should offer a balance of approaches. However, we also recognise that pupils cannot be taught skills in a vacuum and benefit from expert, teacher-led instruction in order to acquire secure subject knowledge as a platform for their learning.”

Luke Sparkes and Jenny Thompson, of Dixons MAT say the secret to success isn’t the socio-economic make up of your cohort or the location of your school. For them:

“A knowledge-based curriculum is about harnessing the power of cognitive science, identifying each marginal gain and acting upon it; having the humility to keep refining schemes of work, long term plans and generating better assessments.”


The Question of Knowledge practicalities of a knowledge-based curriculum –Parents and Teachers for Excellence and ASCL  

The Question of Knowledge


See Also

Knowledge and the Curriculum: A collection of essays to accompany E. D. Hirsch’s lecture at Policy Exchange Sep 17, 2015




Parents and Teachers for Excellence (PTE) is a new movement to promote reforms within the education system and to spread good practice to help deliver excellence in schools across the country focused mainly on academy and free schools  as  engines of change

Web Site


The Times and many influential members of the establishment have expressed their growing concerns about funding cuts to the British Council. The Council has been seen as indispensable, they say, to the projection of our‘ soft power’, which we need more now than ever before.  Earlier this month The Times revealed the Foreign Office’s £39 million-a-year grant to fund much of its cultural activity in countries not entitled to aid was to be phased out over the next three years. It is reallocating funding towards poorer countries.  The council, a public body, also a registered charity, has promoted British values, culture and education around the world for 80 years, using soft power to cultivate relationships which survived the Second World War and the end of Empire. On the education front it has   offered, amongst other things , English language teaching abroad, seen to be its strongest card  and one of its  stated roles is to support UK  education exporters . It is partly funded by the taxpayer.

When the British Councils funding is thought to be under threat, it is a truth universally acknowledged that the great and the good, and the elite who define our culture for us,  become animated and   write lots of letters and  raise the matter  urgently in Parliament.  Make no mistake, the BC has many friends in high places.  In this case,  its supporters have  appealed to the Times. A supportive Leader,   somewhat inevitably, followed.

But as the Times reminds us the British Council has a reputation for  being poor at controlling its operational and staff  costs .  It also has a pretty poor record of  measuring its outputs, or demonstrating that it offers value for money to the British taxpayer. You see soft power is hard to measure and evaluate, so the BC always has a get out of jail card in its back pocket,when challenged about   value for money. In  the most recent Triennial review of the British Councils operations (2014)  concerns were registered by stakeholders  ie other English language education providers (remember its supposed to support our  education exports)about  its anti-competitive antics in the market,  as a subsidised provider of services. There are, and have long   been, particular concerns around the conduct of the BC covering   unfair competition,  conflicts of interest , and  a lack of accountability and transparency. The then junior Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire said in 2014 of the BC :

“I would argue that the threat from the commercial activities of the British Council has been real. Our concern is that in some ways, particularly in the provision of English language teaching and exams, it can freeze out the private sector. “

Spot on. This  was  the first time that any member  of any government had acknowledged that there might even  be an issue.  He went on to explain that  a  new independent complaints process was being  set up  run by a company called  Verita, which  was supposed to better  “hear and understand stakeholder concerns, including the concerns of the English language teaching and education sector, and take steps to address them.” Not much has been heard of Verita since.  Presumably its quietly going about its business.  Historically, though, complaints against the Council have rarely  been investigated with any semblance of  rigour.

The British Council wears many hats: it is a language school business, a language testing business, an international education marketing business (SIEM), an online english teaching business, a language school accreditor, an education service and support provider and  an exam provider . It also happens to compete in the above, with other UK providers , while ostensibly having the role as a promoter and supporter of these same providers. How does that work? Well, in short, it doesn’t and cant.  You cannot  work ‘for the benefit of all UK providers’ when you  compete directly with these same providers  for the same contracts abroad , often with a bit of very  special  bespoke support from local diplomats.

Kevin McNeany, one of our best education entrepreneurs  over  the last generation ,  having worked   in education for over 40 years,  told the Guardian a while back “ I never gave the British Council a moment’s consideration as a source of information and support. Even if they had information of commercial value, it would first be filtered through its own internal networks to see if it could be monetised for in-house benefit.” That’s what they do. Cherry pick for their own benefit,  and leave the rest   struggling with the remains

Going back to the  2014,  Triennial Review-it  found ‘ Feedback from some UK stakeholders reinforced our impression that the British Council was a less transparent organisation than might be expected of a major public body.’ That is an understatement. Its also hard to over -state how much ill feeling there is towards the BC in sections of the education market who believe that the BC,   far from supporting   their efforts,   actually undermine their business interests.   Not only have they used their privileged position to muscle out smaller providers from the market, but they use their contacts,  local intelligence and market  domination to secure the  big contracts, at the expense of other providers.  This is a nonsense if one is concerned about the development of this  education  export market and the  interests of UK plc , yet    its  been allowed to happen for years.

The   BC has also ,rather cleverly and quietly, been dipping into the aid budget too,   to make up for  the shortfalls in its FCO funding. The FCO has been subject to cuts, of course,  as has every other department ,excluding of  course  Aid.   Its not entirely clear why the BC should be exempt from cuts in a way that, for example , the Ministry of Defence and FCO aren’t.  Are we saying its Ok  as part of austerity measures to cut Defence (hard power)  but not  Culture (soft power)?

There is little evidence that the BC has done much in response to the recommendations made by the  last Triennial Review,  over improving its financial and operational transparency.   So, before one gets too dewy eyed about the BC and its ‘soft power’ being eroded , just remember that it should be subject to the same accountability  and transparency  as other bodies in receipt of taxpayers money. Which as things stand it isn’t.  .  As worrying is that in one  of the few export sectors where we should have a comparative advantage,  education,  and particularly  English language provision and related services, the BC increases the costs and risks of operating in that market, and acts as a barrier for many providers to enter that market in the first place. It reduces real competition in the market which affects  quality,   price and value for money. This all seems to be a matter of little concern to the great and the good,  or the Times, for that matter. One has to ask-why on earth not?


University Technical Colleges have not had a particularly good press of late.

Some UTCs have found it hard to recruit and retain young people. A handful have  had to  close. Others have had too  variable performance,against accepted benchmarks receiving  poor Ofsted ratings. Indeed, when judged against a range of criteria such as student recruitment, attainment outcomes, and closures / conversions to different school types, it is clear that the introduction of UTCs has been, lets say,   challenging.  But  its important to get these challenges in their proper perspective. Arguably they are not operating on a level playing field,  as  Lord Baker,   their strongest advocate,  has pointed out.  UTCs recruit students from age 14, which works against the grain of the current system   and  the government, frankly  could have done more to help them establish themselves and to create an enabling environment in which they might have more easily  thrived.

As far as performance is concerned, analysis from NFER suggests that (at least some) of the poor performance of UTCs, in the headline accountability measures, may be because the academic measures do not recognise the composition or breadth of curriculum offered by most UTCs. In addition, UTCs are only responsible for two of the five years that students spend in secondary education, but are being held to account for all five years, which doesn’t seem entirely fair.

The Principal of Silverstone UTC, Neil Patterson, recently blogged that Silverstone gets its pupils from 80 to 90 different schools: ‘We work hard to ensure school leaders know what we do.   They are best placed to advise their students on whether UTC Silverstone offers the right education setting.’ But, he adds, ‘Sadly this approach doesn’t always work. All too often parents of students looking to join us describe the pressure their children are put under to stay at their current school, without consideration for their child’s abilities, interests or career ambitions.’ This is a common complaint. If a child moves, then the school loses the funding that goes with that child. So,  schools have a vested interest in persuading that child to stay put. Whether or not that  is in the childs interests.

Patterson continues ‘On the other side of the coin, parents of disruptive students often tell us that their child’s previous school advised them to apply to the UTC. These children faced permanent exclusion at their previous school. Those schools tell parents that we are better suited to their children because we are “hands on”. This concerns me a great deal because the reality is that most of their KS4 study is still the same, and while engineering might be an applied subject, there is not the level of “hands on” activity that most students are led to believe by school leaders who haven’t taken the time to find out about the UTC’

We also know that Careers guidance in some  schools can be patchy and variable in quality and that there may well be  what’s called ‘cognitive biases’  at play, when it comes to teachers (often unqualified for guidance work )  spelling out options that are open for girls, (ie STEM subjects and vocational  subjects  are sometimes ignored as viable  options )so rather too  often children are not getting access to good  independent advice, guidance and  information- whether that is  related to UTCs, or other vocational and technical options.

Despite this as it happens,  Silverstone is doing OK. UTC Silverstone has seen an increase in applications from 98 to 197 from just March to May this year

The government seems to have realized that it could have done more to ease the introduction of UTCs Earlier this year, the government made it a legal requirement that all local authorities should write to the parents of Year 9 children to tell them about their local UTC.  Letters went out for the first time in Spring 2017.  In addition, the government has legislated to entitle UTCs to go into local schools from September 2017 to explain to the students the type of education that UTCs offer. This may lead to a further significant increase in the rate of applications at KS4.

A new  delivery model will always need time to bed in, as the academies programme has shown,  more generally. So, it’s probably too early to judge UTCs. There is,  rightly,  pressure on them to raise their game   and to to deliver, across the piece, better results, and to attract and retain more students. But they have had significant challenges to address, and recent changes should help them . Lets hope so because our vocational and technical offers for pupils lag far behind those  on offer from our continental competitors.


Careers Guidance-A New Alliance to work with the Government  

A new careers strategy was first proposed by the Government back in December 2015, in response to the universal view from education and business that, in many areas, access to careers advice for young people was patchy and inadequate and ‘was on life support’ (CBI 2013)

Four major organisations in the career development space have now  come together to create a new alliance: The Career Management Quality Alliance (CMQA) which is  keen to help expedite this  new,  long delayed Careers Strategy.

Chair of the Alliance and President of the Career Development Institute, Virginia Isaac, said “We want to be helpful to Government. To move things along, we have gathered the views of key education and careers bodies in the country and produced a position statement ‘A Careers Strategy that Works for Everyone’. If this thinking can be incorporated into government policy there will be a good chance of breaking through the current log-jam and making good some of the acute erosion of career guidance in recent times”.

The Career Management Quality Alliance comprises:

The Career Development Institute (CDI): the UK-wide professional body for everyone working in career education, career information, advice and guidance and career coaching.

Careers England: the trade association for employer organisations and traders involved in the

provision of products and services promoting career education and guidance in England.

Assessment Services Ltd: the assessment body for the matrix standard, the Government owned quality standard for organisations providing information, advice and guidance


The Quality in Careers Consortium: which oversees the Quality in Careers Standard, the national quality award for careers education, information, advice and guidance (CEIAG) in schools, colleges and work-based learning.

The  Career Management Quality Alliance wants the governments long awaited Careers Strategy   to be published  soon after Parliaments return from  its Summer Recess, “ to prevent further erosion of services and to enable us to work together to build a system that enables every citizen to contribute effectively to the economy and to have a successful and fulfilling career”

A statement from the Alliance, issued on 2 August,  sets out the key elements,   in the form of twelve points, that it proposes should be included in a  Careers strategy . The Alliance says it is ready to work with the Government to agree the final strategy and to support its effective implementation.

  1. The strategy must set out a vision that support for career management should be available to everyone throughout life, and it should pay equal attention to services for young people and for adults.
  2. The focus should be on both enabling individuals to develop the skills and qualities needed to plan and manage their own careers (commonly referred to as ‘career management and employability skills’) and providing access to personal career guidance at times when it is needed.
  3. Schools and colleges should be encouraged to adopt the eight Gatsby benchmarks of good careers practice and to appoint a careers leader with responsibility for the provision of careers support.
  4. The statutory duty to provide careers education in the curriculum should be reinstated and raised to age 18. It should be supported by a recommended national framework of career management and employability skills.
  5. All schools and colleges should be strongly recommended to achieve the Quality in Careers Standard and incentivised to do so through development funding linked to a commitment to achieving the Standard.
  6. To meet the statutory duty to secure access to impartial careers guidance, schools and colleges should be required to use the services only of careers advisers with a professional qualification in career guidance and, where they commission services from an external organisation, they should ensure that the organisation is accredited to the matrix Standard.
  7. A network of Career Development Co-ordinators should be established across the country, to work with the Enterprise Co-ordinators in the LEPs (whose work focuses on the twoGatsby benchmarks that relate to engaging with employers), to support schools and college with their careers programmes.
  1. The specification for the National Careers Service should be revised to ensure that its services reach all adults and that it provides support for developing career management and employability skills as well as information, advice and guidance. Its services should also be extended to young people who are NEET, home educated or not in school or college for any other reason.
  2. All careers advisers working in the National Careers Service must hold, or be working towards, an appropriate professional qualification.
  3. All organisations providing career management and employability services, through theNational Careers Service and other publicly funded support, must be accredited to the matrix Standard.
  1. Private sector organisations and traders providing career management services that are not publicly-funded, should be encouraged to use professionally qualified staff and to work towards the matrix Standard.
  2. The Government should investigate how changes to the tax system and development loans could encourage both individuals and employers to invest in career management support


“Dialogic teaching is distinct from the question-answer-tell routines of so-called ‘interactive’ teaching, aiming to be more consistently searching and more genuinely reciprocal and cumulative” says Professor Robin Alexander .  According to Alexander it  requires:

interactions which encourage students to think, and to think in different ways

questions which invite much more than simple recall

answers which are justified, followed up and built upon rather than merely received

feedback which informs and leads thinking forward as well as encourages

contributions which are extended rather than fragmented

exchanges which chain together into coherent and deepening lines of enquiry

discussion and argumentation which probe and challenge rather than unquestioningly accept

professional engagement with subject matter which liberates classroom discourse from the safe and conventional

classroom organisation, climate and relationships which make all this possible

It  is claimed that it helps the teacher more precisely to diagnose students’ needs, frame their learning tasks and assess their progress.

The proposition is that by  engaging in genuine dialogue with others, individuals can operate at a higher level of thinking than would be possible on their own.  So ‘dialogic teaching’, emphasises dialogue through which pupils learn to reason, discuss, argue, and explain in order to develop their higher order thinking as well as their articulacy.( so, think,  Socractic Dialogue!)

The Education Endowment Foundation has recently completed an evaluation of a Dialogic Teaching intervention. The aim of the intervention was to raise levels of engagement and attainment across English, maths, and science in primary schools by improving the quality of teacher and pupil talk in the classroom. The intervention was developed and delivered by a team from the Cambridge Primary Review Trust (CPRT) and the University of York. Year 5 teachers in 38 schools, and a teacher mentor from each school, received resources and training from the delivery team, and then implemented the intervention over the course of the autumn and spring terms in the 2015/2016 school year. Following the intervention, pupils were tested in English, mathematics, and science. This efficacy trial compared the 38 schools (2,492 pupils) in which the intervention took place with 38 control schools (2,466 pupils). During the intervention, the evaluation team also carried out a survey and interviews with a sample of teachers, mentors, and heads, plus case-study visits to three intervention schools

Key conclusions

  1. Children in Dialogic Teaching schools made two additional months’ progress in English and science, and one additional month’s progress in maths, compared to children in control schools, on average. The three padlock security rating means we are moderately confident that this difference was due to the intervention and not to other factors.
  2. Children eligible for free school meals (FSM) made two additional months’ progress in English, science, and maths compared to FSM children in control schools. The smaller number of FSM pupils in the trial limits the security of this result.
  3. The intervention was highly regarded by headteachers, mentors, and teachers who thought that the Dialogic Teaching approach had positive effects on pupil confidence and engagement.
  4. The majority of participating teachers felt that it would take longer than two terms to fully embed a Dialogic Teaching approach in their classrooms. It could therefore be valuable to test the impact of the intervention over a longer period.
  5. This intervention requires teachers to change classroom talk across the curriculum, supported by training, handbooks, video, and regular review meetings with mentors. Future research could aim to differentiate the effects of these different elements.

EEF Dialogic Teaching Evaluation report and executive summary

July 2017- Independent evaluators: Professor Tim Jay, Ben Willis, Dr Peter Thomas, Dr Roberta Taylor, Dr Nick Moore, Professor Cathy Burnett, Professor Guy Merchant, Anna Stevens