Pippa Lord, Sally Bradshaw, Ben Styles, Eleanor Stevens
29 July 2015
The Perry Beeches Coaching Programme aimed to improve the reading and writing skills of Year 7 pupils with low levels of attainment in four English secondary schools. Coaches, mainly graduates, were employed to provide one-to-one tuition to pupils who had not reached level 4c in English at the end of Key Stage 2.
The approach was based on a one-to-one coaching programme used in Match Charter School in Boston, USA; and had also been successfully piloted in Perry Beeches Academy in Birmingham – the lead school in the trial reported here. The programme is intended to be intensive (e.g. five hours of individual tuition each fortnight) and individualised. In practice in this trial, pupils received a range of targeted support, including one-to-one and small group tuition.
This efficacy trial sought to assess the impact of the programme on the academic outcomes of 186 students who were offered support during the 2013–2014 school year. The study was funded by the Education Endowment Foundation as one of 24 projects in a themed round on literacy catch-up at the primary–secondary transition.
- The programme had a positive impact on pupils’ attainment in reading, spelling and grammar, equivalent to approximately five additional months’ progress. However, the programme was delivered in a variety of ways, meaning that the precise contribution of one-to-one sessions was difficult to establish.
- The programme had a similar effect for pupils eligible for free school meals as for their peers.
- This was an efficacy trial, and did not seek to prove that the approach would work in all schools. That said, it did identify strong evidence of promise. Coaches felt that pupils engaged well with the variety of sessions and that both one-to-one and small group work was beneficial. However, greater definition of the approach may be required were the approach to be trialled in a larger number of schools.
- The cost of the programme was high compared to other literacy catch-up approaches—including those delivered one to one—due to the salary costs of coaches and the intensity of support provided.