Evidence-based Literacy Support - the 'Literacy Octopus' trial: Evaluation Report and Executive Summary

Pippa Lord, Adam Rabiasz, Palak Roy, Jennie Harland, Ben Styles, Katherine Fowler

01 December 2017

The Literacy Octopus trials explored the impact of a variety of strategies to disseminate evidence-based materials to primary schools in England, all aimed at improving teaching and learning in Key Stage 2 literacy. The ‘dissemination’ trial sent materials to a large number of schools; the ‘literacy support’ trial included light touch support such as webinars and conferences in addition to the materials. Both explored the impact on pupil attainment.

The trials were funded by the Education Endowment Foundation, the Department for Education and the London Schools Excellence Fund, and conducted by NFER’s Education Trials Unit. The materials were provided by: the Institute for Effective Education; Campaign for Learning; the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring; and NatCen with ResearchEd.

Key Findings

  • Communicating research evidence to schools is insufficient on its own to improve teaching and learning. The trials found no evidence that disseminating research to schools either through mass mailing or with light touch support improved pupils’ attainment one year on from schools receiving the resources.
  • Engaging schools was a challenge: six out of ten schools either did not engage at all or only a little, citing lack of time and a preference for more interactive support.
  • All the materials included how to apply the evidence in practice; however, there was no impact on teachers’ use of research according to survey data.
  • For the small proportion of schools that went on to implement change, in-school collaboration, trying-out, reviewing and embedding the approaches seemed key.
  • Further research is needed on transforming evidence into practice, and on supporting conditions in schools to use evidence.

Related Titles

Evidence-based literacy support - the 'Literacy Octopus' trial , 'Literacy Octopus' Dissemination Trial

Sponsor Details

Education Endowment Foundation