Improving attainment across an education authority

Allen Thurston, Peter Tymms, Christine Merrell, and Nora Conlin consider lessons learned from a project designed to improve attainment across a whole local education authority

GOVERNMENT ATTEMPTS TO RAISE attainment through policy initiatives are often disappointing. Evidence suggests that it is hard for large-scale, top-down reform to improve pupils’ attainment. For example, despite numerous reforms in English primary schools stemming from the introduction of the Education Reform Act in 1988-2007, including national literacy and numeracy strategies, there has been virtually no improvement in reading standards and only a small improvement in maths.

What we know
● Cross-age peer tutoring was effective at raising attainment in reading and mathematics in schools across a whole LEA.
● Same age tutoring, whilst easier to organise, was not effective.
● It is possible to work with schools on a wide basis on a clustered randomised controlled trial.
● Schools benefit from careful and systematic support from LEA managers to help them develop new ways of working.

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