Evaluation of the Accelerator Fund Pipeline

Suzanne Straw and Mark Boylan

14 March 2023

Research report on the EEF website

During 2022, NFER and Sheffield Hallam University undertook a small-scale formative process evaluation of EEF’s Accelerator Fund (AF) pipeline. Funded by the Department for Education, the AF pipeline aimed to strengthen the development of EEF’s pipeline of evidence-based programmes and support more schools to use evidence in their practice. The pipeline included five stands of activities. Two strands were innovations - Early-Stage Programme Development and Capability Building – whilst three were a refinement/development of existing EEF activity – Trials, Scaling and School Support. Activities were targeted at three Regional School Commissioner (RSC) regions particularly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic: the North; the East Midlands and Humber; and the West Midlands.

Key Findings

  • All strands met their recruitment targets, with EEF and DfE recruitment support – such as brokering introductions and promoting opportunities on websites and via social media – proving beneficial.
  • All strands were implemented with fidelity to intentions and to expected timescales. Factors supporting implementation included: EEF and partner support tailored to need; partner expertise and tried and tested training, models and tools; programme team’s enthusiasm, experience and reputation for delivery; close collaboration between partners and programme teams; programmes linking to school priorities and short interventions (e.g. 13 weeks) with light-touch training, practical takeaway and blended face-to-face and virtual delivery.
  • Schools were generally highly satisfied with the AF pipeline strands, with survey findings suggesting that AF schools, despite shorter engagement with EEF, were more aware of EEF activities and had higher levels of participation than non-AF schools. The AF pipeline also led to a range of outcomes for EEF teams and programme developers, for example increased expertise in supporting and implementing programmes of this nature.
  • Learning from the evaluation suggests that EEF could:
    • develop a needs analysis framework so that capability and scaling support across its pipeline is more effectively targeted
    • draw insights from the AF pipeline around capability and scaling needs of programmes and teams when reviewing granting criteria in the future
    • place more focus on systemising the brokering of external expertise to support capability building
    • provide more input on the evidence base to support programme developers.

Sponsor Details

Education Endowment Foundation, Sheffield Hallam University