Testing different types of school recruitment emails: a nimble reach and engagement RCT

Jennie Harland, Eleanor Bradley, Ruth Staunton, Pippa Lord, David Sims and Ben Styles

11 August 2021

Research report on the EEF website

Research literature shows that testimonials and endorsements, and research evidence, can influence headteachers’ decision-making. This nimble randomised controlled trial (RCT) explored whether a recruitment email including a headteacher testimonial of the benefits of tutoring or an email including an empirical evidence summary of tutoring benefits was more influential in headteachers’ decision to sign their school up to the Tuition Partners (TP) programme.

Just under 2,000 schools were randomly allocated to receive one of the two distinctive emails, which were trialled and sent by the tuition partner EM Tuition during February and March 2021.

The RCT was funded by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and conducted by NFER. The study analysed the proportion of schools signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) or providing an Expression of Interest (EoI) to join the TP programme; and included telephone interviews and pro-formas with schools to gather their views.

Key Findings

  • There was no evidence to show that one recruitment email was more influential than the other on the proportion of schools signing up to the programme. However, the number of schools submitting EoIs and signing MoUs as a result of receiving the email was small, and this will have limited our ability to compare the sign-up rates across the two groups.
  • Whilst senior leaders found the inclusion of a headteacher testimonial or evidence summary informative, it mainly confirmed their views rather than influenced their decision to sign-up to tutoring.
  • Three factors appeared to influence schools’ decisions to take up NTP tutoring: the perceived educational value of tutoring; considerations of the practical delivery of tutoring; and affordability of tutoring provision.
  • Tutoring recruitment emails could be enhanced by providing greater clarity about: the logistics of tutoring provision, flexibility to adapt the support to the schools’ and pupils’ needs, and costs. Brief examples of how other schools have implemented the support could be useful.

Further information about NTP Tuition Partners
This is the first publication from the nimble RCTs commissioned by the EEF testing aspects of engagement in the Tuition Partners pillar of the National Tutoring Programme (NTP). Further information about other nimble RCTs and the overarching evaluation of NTP can be found on the National Tutoring Programme webpage of the EEF website: www.educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/projects-and-evaluation/projects/national-tutoring-programme/

The EEF has led the delivery of the Tuition Partners pillar of the NTP in 2020-21, funded as part of the Government coronavirus catch-up package. The TP programme allows schools to access subsidised tuition from a list of thirty-three tuition partners, quality-approved by the EEF, to support pupils who have missed out the most as a result of school closures due to the Covid-19 pandemic.