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First ever RCT to achieve the highest rating of research quality

12 June 2015

NFER's evaluation of the ‘Improving Numeracy and Literacy’ trial has been awarded five 'padlocks', the first ever randomised controlled trial (RCT) to achieve this top rating of research quality from the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF). This is according to the results of a new EEF report published today.

Delivered by Oxford University and evaluated by the NFER, the randomised controlled trial that focused on effective teaching was strong on all of the five padlock rating system factors:

The padlock system is a classification system developed in association with members of the EEF’s Panel of Evaluators and Evaluation Advisory Board for the purpose of communicating the security of findings to practitioners. The highest rating under this system suggests that the conclusions have high security, i.e. the difference between the groups can be confidently interpreted as being due to the intervention and not because of other differences.

Commenting on this news, Ben Styles, Head of NFER's Education Trials Unit, said: “This is the first trial that EEF have ever awarded ‘five padlocks’ to, and it raises the bar in terms of the quality of evaluation conducted by NFER’s Trials Unit. Such outstanding results were possible due to contributions by both the University of Oxford and NFER. We are grateful to the schools that all stayed the course of the trial.”

The numeracy intervention was found to have a positive impact on primary school pupils’ numeracy skills, with their attainment in this area having improved by an additional three months. There was no evidence to suggest that the literacy intervention had an impact on pupils’ literacy skills overall. NFER’s Trials Unit randomised schools into intervention and control groups and independently administered the post-test in every school that started the trial. All the results will be used to inform the EEF’s Teaching and Learning Toolkit, an accessible summary of research used by nearly half of all school leaders.


Contact information:
Maryann Thomas, NFER Content and Media Executive: 01753 637245;

Note to editors

About EEF
The Education Endowment Foundation is a charity set up in 2011 by the Sutton Trust as lead foundation in partnership with Impetus Trust, with a Department for Education grant of £125m. It is dedicated to breaking the link between family income and educational achievement. Since its launch the EEF has awarded £57 million to 100 projects working with over 620,000 pupils in over 4,900 schools across England.; @EducEndowFoundn

About NFER
NFER has a worldwide reputation for providing independent and rigorous research in education. As a charity, any surplus generated by the Foundation is reinvested in research projects to provide evidence that improves education and the life chances of learners in the UK and beyond.
/schools; @TheNFER