srnseptember2012final by yTx9N4J2


									              Schools Research News
                 September 2012
This newsletter is intended to help keep practitioners, teacher educators and others
with an interest in education up to date with recently published schools research. If
you would like to be added to or removed from the circulation list please email
Disclaimer: the research reported in the newsletter may not necessarily reflect the
views of the Department


Some MFL teachers interviewed were positive about controlled assessments,
though most MFL teachers felt that teaching time was reduced by CAs
Study of use of controlled assessment in Modern Foreign Languages – pg 2

Improving Pupil Performance

Most common areas of Pupil Premium expenditure reported to be on early
intervention, reducing class sizes, more one-to-one tuition and teaching
Survey questions posed to 1600 teachers about the Pupil Premium – pg 4

Service children in the US reported to have increased confidence and ability to
cope with stress as a result of taking part in free summer camps
Evaluation of Operation Purple summer camp programme for military youth – pg 5

Ownership of texts seen as important in the process of looked after pupils
becoming and perceiving themselves as readers
Review of the evidence on looked after children and literacy – pg 6

Provision of effective feedback, the use of learning to learn approaches and
peer tutoring shown to have greatest potential impact on pupil progress
Teaching and learning toolkit assesses impact and cost of interventions – pg 7

Under-performers at age 8 who showed improved reading and maths before
age 10 were more likely to be high performers by the end of secondary school
Longitudinal Competent Learners study in New Zealand – pg 9

Participation, Behaviour and Attendance and Vocational Qualifications

74 percent of young people surveyed planned to go to university, while 55
percent reported that not one of their parents or carers had studied at
Survey of 1032 young people in Year 10 to Year 13 about their university plans- pg

Some evidence to show employers’ involvement with schools is helpful to
post-16 progression though no specific evidence for at risk pupils

An international review of the evidence on employers involvement with schools – pg
American research showed significantly more school pupils progressed to HE
following school based college access interventions
Review of the evidence on the effectiveness of college access programs – pg 13

Some evidence that provision of enterprise education helps to improve young
people’s ability to secure employment and improve their problem solving skills
Survey of enterprise education among 987 young people and 77 stakeholders- pg 14

Light-touch information campaign in schools showed some success in pupils
understanding rounded messages about the costs and benefits of entering HE
Testing the effectiveness of an information campaign among 12,000 Year 10s – pg


Controlled Assessment in Modern Foreign Languages: Final Report (Ipsos

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Commissioned by Ofqual, this small scale follow up to a larger scale telephone
survey of 800 MFL teachers, aimed to explore the issues experienced by MFL
teachers in undertaking Controlled Assessment (CA) in GCSEs, and to identify how
any problems might be mitigated. The follow-up study was based on 35 interviews
and four focus groups with MFL teachers and five interviews with representatives
from each of the awarding organisations.

Key findings from the study:

The teachers who participated in the research fell across a broad spectrum of opinion
about CA: a minority were largely positive about CA or had experienced a few
isolated problems, while most had more significant concerns, and a few were firmly
opposed and advocated a return to terminal exams or coursework in future.

Most teachers felt that teaching time was reduced and learning was narrowed by CA.
Often, teachers felt that this was primarily a result of the impact that CA was seen to
have on teaching and learning leading up to assessments and the frequency of
assessments, rather than the time used in task-taking and the formal CA preparation

Teachers felt that they had to concentrate their teaching on the topics and language
that were part of CA assessments at the expense of other topics, and to focus on the
vocabulary and structures their students needed to gain high marks in the
assessments rather than teaching more broadly.

Some teachers perceived that assessments tested memory rather than language
skills, and this could undermine their confidence in the validity of the assessments.
Participating teachers indicated that students often learned their written and oral
material by rote, and simply reproduced it during the task-taking. Although teachers
did not believe they encouraged rote learning, they tended to feel that it was a
consequence of setting and preparing assessments in advance, as students saw

learning pieces by rote as the means by which to prepare for the assessment and to
gain the best possible marks.

Most teachers reported that they found it difficult to mark oral work, and found oral
work more difficult to mark than writing. Participating teachers said that they could
not conduct and mark the oral assessments simultaneously and had to review the
recordings to mark them, which added to their workload.

Most teachers said that they did not receive any training on marking oral
assessments despite this being a new requirement. Teachers tended not to be taking
advantage of (or being comfortable with the idea of using) more flexible options for
oral assessments, such as doing speaking assessments in class and/or recording
only one of the two speaking assessments.

Many teachers found the Awarding Organisations’ requirements unclear such as not
being sure what preparation could and could not be done by students at home; and
how different a task has to be from previous tasks to be considered legitimately a
‘new’ task.

The study found that some teachers welcomed CA, although most had reservations
or concerns about at least one element. For example, some teachers liked the
centre-designed options which allowed more creative teaching practices, and some
praised the new oral assessments as being much less daunting for students than
previous oral examinations. Other teachers felt the staged nature of CA makes MFL
a more appealing option to students by making the assessments feel more
manageable than a terminal examination.

Improving Pupil Performance

NFER Teacher Voice Omnibus 2012 Survey: The use of the Pupil Premium

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The Sutton Trust submitted 13 questions to the NFER’s Teacher Voice omnibus
survey in February 2012 about the use of the Pupil Premium in schools. A sample of
over 1600 teachers completed the survey which included teachers from a wide range
of school governance types and subject areas. Sample numbers were sufficient to
allow for comparisons between the primary and secondary sectors. The questions
asked teachers (both primary and secondary) about the Pupil Premium and the top
three priorities for extra spending at their school. Teachers were given a list of
options to choose from including ‘other’, ‘don’t know’ and ‘none’.

Key finding from the study:

Participating teachers were asked: “with the money received through the Pupil
Premium, what is the top priority for extra spending at the school in 2011/2012?”. The
most popular responses were early intervention (16 percent), reducing class sizes
(15 percent), more one-to-one tuition (10 percent), additional teaching assistants (8
percent) and offsetting budget cuts elsewhere (8 percent).

The study also found that more than a quarter (28 percent) of participating teachers
were not aware of the top priority for spending the Pupil Premium at their school. This
tended to be more common among secondary teachers than their primary
counterparts (34 percent compared with 24 percent). There was also a more marked
difference by seniority; five percent of senior leaders responded ‘don’t know’,
compared with over a third (34 percent) of classroom teachers.

In terms of the second top priority the most popular response was, again, early
intervention (20 percent). This was followed by additional teaching assistants and
one-to-one tuition (both 11 percent). The remaining options were selected by, at
most, ten percent of teachers. The most common among these were improving the
classroom or school environment (9 percent), additional teachers (8 percent) and
reducing class sizes (7 percent). Early intervention also featured strongly, as
teachers’ third priority area and was the most common answer along with improving
the classroom or school environment (both 14 percent).

In summary, the responses to the survey indicated that half of the teachers (50
percent) identified early intervention schemes as one of their top three priorities,
while 30 percent identified more one-to-one tuition, and 30 percent named additional
teaching assistants as one of the top three priorities. Slightly fewer ticked improving
the classroom or school environment or reducing class sizes (27 percent
respectively) as one of their top three priorities.

The survey also asked how participating teachers’ schools decided on which
approaches and programmes to adopt to improve pupils’ learning. The survey found
that teachers reporting that their school used past experience of what works. Large
proportions of teachers also said their school learns from what works in other schools
(46 percent) and from evaluating different approaches within the school (45 percent).
Just over a third (36 percent) of teachers said their school looked at research
evidence on the impact of different approaches and programmes. About a fifth (21

percent) indicated that their school considers the cost effectiveness of different
approaches. Some 17 percent said their school consulted the Local Authority in
making decisions. A small minority (5 percent) of teachers said their school used the
Pupil Premium toolkit published by the Sutton Trust.

Assessing Operation Purple: A Program Evaluation of a Summer Camp for
Military Youth (RAND)

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This US study aimed to evaluate the Operation Purple camp program, a free summer
camp provided to military children and teenagers who experience parental
deployment. The authors noted that since the start of the wars in Afghanistan and
Iraq, such military family support programmes have proliferated. However, there has
been little evaluation of whether these programmes are meeting their key objectives.
(There is a similar current policy interest in England, in terms of improving the
outcomes for Service Children). This study aimed specifically to understand how the
Operation Purple summer camp program helped targeted young people learn about
military culture, connect with other military peers, and learn how to cope with the
stress associated with parental deployment. The study used a quasi-experimental
design, and included surveys of students and parents (there were 977 child-parent
pairs) as well as analysis of camp after-action reports from students. In terms of
sample characteristics: half the participants came from Army families, and the
remainder were from the Navy (19 percent), the Air Force (17 percent); and from the
Marine Corps (11 percent). Approximately three-quarters (76 percent) of the sample
came from the active component, with the rest from the reserve component. The
study also compared a sample of young people who attended the camps with those
who did not during the summer of 2011. The research was sponsored by the National
Military Family Association in the US.

Key findings from the study:

About 60 percent of the participants had experienced three or more parental
deployments. Some, 39 percent of participants had attended Operation Purple before
2011, while the remaining participants had never attended the camp before. For the
purpose of the evaluation, 44 percent attended in 2011 (and served as the camp /
intervention group); the remaining group formed the no-camp, or control group.
Camp attendance prior to 2011 was accounted in the analyses.

One of the key principles of Operation Purple is that the camp offers a safe and
nurturing space for participants to discuss their feelings about parental deployment
and military life and provides young people with tools to explore those feelings
thoughtfully, through journal writing or other expressive modes. No significant
differences in communication comfort were reported by young people who attended
the camp in 2011 and those who did not. However, at a first follow-up assessment
(one month after the camp took place), parents whose children attended the camp in
2011 reported significantly greater improvement relative to parents in the no-camp
group in terms of: his or her child being able to make himself or herself feel better i.e.
cheer themselves up (38 percent of camp parents versus 25 percent of no-camp
parents); as well as parents themselves having a greater sense of efficacy in helping
their child feel better (27 percent of parents endorsed this item versus 15 percent of
no-camp parents).

Another core theme of Operation Purple camp was educating young people about
military culture and fostering a sense of community in which military peers could
connect with each other. Overall, there were no significant differences in comfort and
understanding of military culture between young people who participated in the camp
and those who did not at the time of the camp; however, significantly more camp
attendees reported having spoken with at least one service member outside their
family at a three month follow-up (36 percent camp versus 21 percent no camp).
There was a similar difference in terms of parents’ reports that their child felt a sense
of community: some 27 percent of camp parents reported that their child felt a
greater sense of community at the first follow-up one month after camp compared
with 16 percent of no-camp parents.

Just over a quarter of parents (28 percent) believed that young people who attended
the camp had developed increased confidence and ability to cope with stress related
to parental deployment as a result of camp participation.

Looked-After Children and Literacy (National Literacy Trust)

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This study reviewed the research evidence on looked-after children and literacy. The
authors began by noting that there has been a growing awareness in the last 25
years that educational standards achieved by looked-after children are lower than
should be expected. To inform the NLT’s pilot work with looked-after children both in
residential and foster care the Trust undertook a review of existing research to
assess the current situation as to looked-after children’s literacy development
including what existing interventions already exist in order to inform future thinking
about ways to improve literacy and reading for pleasure with this group. The review
focused on UK research published in the last decade.

Key findings from the review:
Evidence from the C4EO in 2010 suggested that while initiatives such as virtual
school heads, personal education plans and designated teachers were helping to
make a positive effect on the educational experiences of looked-after children and
young people, the outcomes for looked-after children in education still meant they
were an under-performing group. For example, in Sept 2009 in England, some 68
percent of children looked-after continuously for at least 12 months obtained at least
one GCSE or GNVQ compared with 99 percent of all school children who gained any
qualification; while 15 percent of looked-after children obtained at least 5 GCSEs (or
equivalent) at grades A*-C compared to 70 percent of all school children.

The statistics were similar for looked-after children in Scotland who were reported as
having lower school attendance, gaining fewer qualifications and being over eight
times more likely to be excluded compared to all pupils, and less than half of school
leavers that were looked-after children (44 percent) in 2009/10 were engaged in
work, training or study, compared with 85 percent of all school leavers.

Ownership of texts, was seen as a significant element in the process of young people
becoming and perceiving themselves as readers. There was evidence to suggest
that if children were to become confident, independent readers they needed to be
able to develop their own tastes and preferences in books. Recent research had
found that the volume of books in the home environment could be a significant factor
in predicting academic success - and having as few as 20 books in the home still has

a significant impact on propelling a child to a higher level of education. Providing an
environment with books has also been recognised as important in residential care.

The Reading Champion Report published by the City of Edinburgh Council (2010)
described looked-after children as being more likely to: have difficulty accessing
services because of disability/communication difficulties; have experienced multi-
deprivation/neglect or abuse; have experienced difficulties with their education; be
marginalised or excluded from mainstream services within the community; or present
very challenging behaviours. Although many children enter care with poor
experiences of education and are from positions of social disadvantage, there was
seen to be a danger that low expectations about young people in care could be
exacerbating low achievement in looked-after children.

There was evidence to suggest the amount young people read had a positive impact
on their social skills and community participation. The evaluation of the Reading
Champions Project in City of Edinburgh Council (2010) found a link between
storytelling, literacy skills, good attachments and the development of resilience.

Foster carers were seen to play a vital part in supporting looked-after children with
their literacy. In the evaluation of the Reading Rich scheme, a number of areas
where foster carers indicated they lacked confidence and would welcome support
were identified: knowledge of suitable literature; how to share reading (especially with
older children); and their own reading habits. Other evidence indicated that reading
activities could help to improve the bond between carers and looked after children.

One of the biggest factors in supporting looked-after children’s literacy provision
seemed to be the unpredictable nature of young people’s lives while in the care
system. Placement changes and a variety of other factors meant that there were
often difficulties with library staff maintaining contact with looked after children.
Particular issues included transience and disruptions/circumstances in the children’s
and young people’s lives that could affect attitudes to reading, learning, adults and

In terms of what helped to work to raise the literacy of attainment of looked after
children - evidence from the Scottish Government’s guide to “Improving the
Education of Looked After Children” found that: the motivation and passion of
individual practitioners was frequently referred to by project leaders as being crucial
to the success of interventions. Other factors that were found to make a difference
were: organisational factors which improved the success of projects included strong
leadership, clear and achievable aims, detailed planning, interdisciplinary training,
positive communication and good management with children and young people and
their families.

There was evidence to suggest that carers' involvement in children’s reading has
been shown to be important in improving literacy skills by providing essential day-to-
day emotional and practical support.

The Teaching and Learning Toolkit (Durham University)

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The Sutton Trust-Education Endowment Foundation commissioned this Teaching
and Learning Toolkit to be an independent resource for teachers and schools on how
to use their financial resources, such as the Pupil Premium to improve the attainment
of disadvantaged pupils. The Toolkit was developed as an accessible summary of
educational research covering 21 topics of educational approaches, each
summarised in terms of potential impact on attainment, the strength of the evidence
supporting it, the cost, and applicability. The selection of approaches was based on:
relevance to current education policy, suggestions from schools, and approaches
with a strong evidence of effectiveness not covered by either previous criterion. The
potential gain for each approach was estimated in terms of additional months
progress pupils would be likely to make at school. The estimations were based on
‘effect sizes’ which use quantitative measures of the impact of different approaches
on learning. The Toolkit prioritised systematic reviews of research and quantitative
syntheses of data such as meta-analyses of experimental studies. To be included in
the analysis an approach needed to have some quantifiable evidence base for

Key findings from the toolkit analysis:

The education approaches with the most expected impact on pupil progress were:

      Effective feedback - providing learners with feedback and or the teacher
       about the learner’s performance relative to learning goals. Providing feedback
       helped to redirect or refocus either the teacher’s or the learner’s actions to
       achieve a goal, by aligning effort and activity with an outcome. Provision of
       effective feedback was shown to potentially improve learner progress by at
       least 9 months. The costs of providing effective feedback were estimated to
       be fairly low at up to £170 per pupil per year and there was evidence that it
       could be effective in primary and secondary English, maths and science.
      Learning to learn approaches – using learning to learn or meta-cognitive
       strategies was shown to help make learners think about learning more
       explicitly. This was usually through teaching pupils strategies to plan, monitor
       and evaluate their own learning. Overall, these strategies involve pupils being
       aware of their strengths and weaknesses as learners, being able to set and
       monitor goals and having strategies to choose from or switch to during
       learning activities. The investment in learning to learn approaches was
       shown to produce potential gains of 8 months to learners’
       progress. The cost of introducing such approaches was estimated as low at
       up to £170 per pupil and there was evidence that learning to learn could be
       effective in primary and secondary English, maths and science.
      Peer tutoring – the use of peer tutoring in the classroom was shown to make
       potential gains of six months to pupil progress in primary and secondary
       English and maths. Peer tutoring was described as a range of approaches in
       which learners work in pairs or small groups to provide each other with
       explicit teaching support. In cross-age tutoring an older learner takes the
       tutoring role and is paired with a younger tutee or tutees. The common
       characteristic in peer tutoring is that learners take on responsibility for aspects
       of teaching and for evaluating their success. The cost of adopting peer
       tutoring approaches was estimated at up to £170 per pupil per year.

      Early intervention – the introduction of early intervention approaches were
       shown to potentially improve pupils’ learning by at least six months. However,
       the costs of introducing early learning interventions were estimated at being
       very costly at over one thousand pounds per pupil per year. Early years or
       early childhood interventions were seen as educationally based pre-school or
       nursery experiences which prepare children for school and academic
       success, usually through additional nursery or pre-school provision. Many of
       the researched programmes and approaches focused on disadvantaged
       children. Some also offered parental support.

Educational approaches with the least or no effect included: the use of ability
grouping, the use of block scheduling and investment in school uniforms. Other
approaches such as the reduction of class size showed moderate impact (3 months),
though the costs of introduction were very high.

Laying learning foundations to lift success at NCEA level 3 (New Zealand
Council for Educational Research)

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Drawing on data from the longitudinal Competent Learners study, this New Zealand
report examined how pupils who were identified as low achievers at age eight went
on to become academically successful by the time they left school. The Competent
Learners study tracked a sample of around 500 students from preschool, through
school, into post-school study or work. Data collected at age 20 included highest
level of school qualification which the current study drew on. This paper focused
specifically on those students who, despite being in the lowest quartile for reading
and numeracy competencies at age 8, succeeded in gaining a Level 3 National
Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) award – the highest level of school
leaving certificate in New Zealand and the entry qualification to university. The study
was able to draw on attainment and attitudinal data collected at various points during
the study (from age 5 onwards) to identify learner qualities that were likely to have
contributed to the difference between these students and other early low achievers
(who continued to be low achievers).

Key findings from the study:

Many students who were in the lowest quartile for the different measures of
academic competencies at age 8 went on to gain a Level 2 or 3 NCEA award.
Twenty seven percent of those in the lowest quartile group for cognitive competency
at age 8 went on to achieve the NCEA Level 3 award, as did 35 percent of those who
were in the lowest quartile group for their attitudinal competencies. Thirty-five percent
of these students were also in the lowest quartile for outcomes in logical reasoning
tests at age 8 but still managed to lift their overall learning performance sufficiently to
gain an NCEA Level 3 award.

Analysis showed that the following cognitive competency factors were associated
with later NCEA success for participating students who started out in the lowest
quartile group for cognitive or attitudinal competencies, or both, at age 8: improved
reading and mathematics achievement between ages 8 and 10; improved writing
achievement between ages 10 and 12; and increased vocabulary scores by age 12.
Given these early changes whilst in primary school, the authors suggested that it was
important to work with lower achieving students to improve their chances of gaining

worthwhile school-exit qualifications before they left primary school and transferred to
secondary school.

For lower performing students on cognitive competencies at age 8, later success in
NCEA was also associated with demonstrating higher scores for attitudinal
competencies by age 8, particularly with increases in levels of perseverance, which
was clearly associated with later NCEA achievement. At age 8, this perseverance
factor incorporated the classroom teacher’s estimation of the following indicators:
persisting with solving a problem; having a good concentration span when working;
finishing all class work; finishing all homework; meeting any personal goals the
student set; meeting any promises they made.

At age 14, the Positive learning environment factor was composed of the following
items, which began with the phrase “the teacher”: gives clear expectations; gives
clear instructions; gives useful feedback on work; helps me do my best; uses
examples that are relevant to me; is interested in my ideas; keeps teaching till we
understand; is happy to explain things again; knows about what interests us; treats
me fairly; and really understands how I feel about things. The other items in this
factor were: I like the teacher; I understand my teacher’s attitudes and rules; I can
count on the teacher for help if needed; and I enjoy doing the homework I get.
Compared to their peers who did not raise their achievement levels, low performers
at age 8 who went on to gain a Level 3 NCEA award were more likely to report at age
14 that they were experiencing positive learning environments in English,
mathematics and science and that they were enjoying these classes. Similar patterns
of association were found at ages 12 and 16.

Of the 401 young people whose qualification level could be determined, 31 young
people were found to have left school without a qualification. Three-quarters of this
small group expressed low levels of satisfaction with their school subject mix at age
16 (some were looking back, having left school). A third of the 53 students who left
school with the lowest NCEA (Level 1) were similarly dissatisfied with their subject
mix, compared to just 11 percent of the rest of the sample who all left school with
NCEA Level 2 or Level 3.

Some particular characteristics were identified for participating students at age 14
and 16 - who went on to leave school with no qualification or a Level 1- these were:
living in low-income families at age near-5, and again at age 16); reporting low levels
of enjoyment of leisure reading at ages 8, 10, 12 and 14; having few leisure interests;
and having friends who engaged in risky behaviour, or having problematic family

In concluding their write-up, the authors identified the limits of the study. The main
ones were that the judgement of each pupil’s attitudinal competencies at age 8 was
made by one teacher (though not for the cognitive competencies). In some cases a
poor relationship may have resulted in an underestimation of the child’s attitudinal
competencies. The authors suggested that any underestimate could have contributed
to some of the lift they appeared to show by age 14. Attitudinal judgements of one
learner made by three different teachers at ages 14 and 16 certainly showed this
possibility for variation.

Participation, Behaviour and Attendance and Vocational Qualifications

NFER Pupil Voice April 2012: Survey of students about university entrance

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In response to the increase in university fees in the UK from 2012, this NFER
omnibus survey of pupils included questions about Year 10 to 13 aspirations and
plans for Higher Education. They particularly looked at whether students were likely
to apply to go to university and the reasons for their choices. A sample of 1032
students completed the survey who were split evenly across the four year groups
with 512 learners in Key Stage 4 (Years 10 and 11) and 520 in the sixth form (Years
12 and 13). The sample included students from a wide range of Government Office
Regions. Information on Social Grade and Annual Household Income was collected
and used as part of the analysis. Sample numbers were sufficient to allow for
comparisons between year groups. Most (83 percent) respondents were in non-
selective state schools or colleges, while around a fifth (18 percent) of students
attended a college; and fewer than one in ten attended a grammar school or
private/independent school (9 percent and 8 percent respectively). The percentage of
students in each year in fee-paying schools and in non-fee paying grammar schools
represented less than ten percent of the sample in each year.

Key findings from the study:

More than half of the sample (55 percent) said that not one of their parents or carers
had studied at university. There were fairly minor differences in the responses by
year group. The lowest proportion of students with a parent or carer who had been to
university (40 percent) was in year 11. The highest proportion of students reporting
that a parent or carer had been to university was highest among year 13 students.

When asked about their own intentions to go on to university, almost three quarters
of students (74 percent) said they were very or fairly likely to apply to a UK university,
while ten percent were undecided. Eight percent of the sample said they were fairly
unlikely to apply, and the same proportion said that they were very likely to apply.
The percentage of students who said that they were likely to apply for university was
highest among Year 12 students (80 percent). More than half (54 percent) said that
they were very likely to do so and a further quarter (26 percent) said they were fairly
likely. The percentage who said they were unlikely to apply was highest among Year
11 students (11 percent) while Year 10 students were, by a very small margin,
proportionally most likely to be undecided. Regarding Year 13 students, more than
three quarters (77 percent) of the sample had already applied to go to university in
the UK.

More than half of all participants (59 percent) said that the increase in tuition fees had
influenced their decision as to whether to go to university in the UK. However, more
than a quarter (29 percent) said that it had not influenced them. This percentage was
highest (63 percent) among Year 13 students but it was not much higher than any
other year group. Younger students were proportionally more likely to indicate that
they did not know how the increase would affect them.

Among students who said they were unlikely to apply to, or had not applied to,
university in the UK, looking for a paid job or an apprenticeship or work-based
training were the most commonly cited plans.

Those students who said they were very or fairly likely to go to university were asked
what subjects they wanted to opt for. No subject included in the selection drew more
than ten percent of respondents but the most popular choices were: Biological
Sciences (10 percent) Medicine and Dentistry (8 percent) Mathematical and
Computer Sciences (7 percent) Law (7 percent) Creative Arts and Design (7

Year 13 students who had applied to university in the UK were asked whether they
had considered applying to Oxbridge. The findings showed that two fifths (41
percent) of target students said they had at least considered applying to Oxford or
Cambridge University, but a smaller percentage (16 percent) had actually made an
application. More than half (59 percent) had not considered applying.

Employer involvement in schools: a rapid review of UK and international
evidence (NFER)

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This literature review looked at the international evidence on employer engagement
with schools. The focus of the review was to establish what is known about
employers’ involvement in schools, in particular with regard to specific involvement
with young people at risk of becoming not in employment education or training
(NEET), and more specifically, those viewed as ‘open to learning’ or ‘undecided’
NEETs, as opposed to young people who were already sustained NEETs. Some 54
recent studies (mainly undertaken in the UK, Australia, Canada and the US and
published in the last five years) were included in the study.

Key findings from the review:

Overall, the evidence showed that employers engaged with schools in a variety of
ways, not only working with students directly but also in less direct ways through
curriculum development and support and through leadership and governance of
schools. The involvement of employers with schools was seen to be beneficial to all
stakeholders. However there was a lack of evidence on the impact of employer
involvement on young people’s achievement and progression. Most of the evidence
identified tended to focus on perceptions of soft outcomes such as enjoyment and

In terms of the types of employer engagement with schools, the evidence showed
that the most frequently reported ways in which employers worked directly with
students was through work experience, school and workplace visits, apprenticeships
and training and mentoring. Other kinds of employer engagement included:
employers or businesses using their skills and experience to support the leadership
and governance of schools; employers supporting the curriculum e.g. by advising on
and developing relevant curricula as well as developing curriculum-related and
lesson resources; and employers working directly with students to develop skills and
awareness. The evidence suggested that this involvement raised student aspirations
as well as helping them to develop skills that are important to employers.

A number of key features to successful employer involvement with schools were
identified in the literature. These features included: a clear vision of what all parties
want to achieve; good communication among partners; partnership commitment,
cooperation and leadership across all stakeholders; time to build relationships and for
professional development; flexibility; focus on curriculum; well-structured programme

design; consideration of regional economic and development priorities; and early

In terms of impact, there was some positive evidence to show that employers’
involvement with schools affected young people’s progression to education,
employment and training after compulsory education. However, most of the literature
reviewed did not explore progression outcomes of students following their
involvement with employers, and there was little evidence in the literature on the
impact of employer involvement on specific groups of young people who might be at
risk of becoming NEET.

Effects of College Access Programs on College Readiness and Enrollment: A
meta-analysis (University of Pennsylvania)

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Funded by a grant from the US Department of Education, this study reviewed the
evidence on the effectiveness of college access programs on college readiness and
college enrolment i.e. entry into HE. The review looked specifically at the evidence of
impact on academic outcomes, completion coursework; and graduation from high
school. College access programs (i.e. entry to HE) were defined in the report as ‘pre-
college interventions that explicitly identify increasing college readiness and/or
college enrolment as a primary goal of the program’. The review only included
studies of interventions that focused on secondary school age students (between
grades six and 12), and were pre-college interventions that explicitly identified
increasing college readiness and/or college enrolment as a primary goal of the
programme and used control groups. The initial evidence search resulted in 1175
studies, which were whittled down to 14 comprehensive studies covering 12 college
readiness programmes, the data from which were re-analysed for this report. Six of
these studies were randomised control trials (RCTs) and the remainder were quasi-
experimental designs (QED – do not use random assignment to control and
intervention groups).

Key findings from the review:

The 14 studies included in the review represented a wide range of programmes that
varied in terms of the target population, source of funding, key programme
components and study design. Four of the 12 programmes implemented pre-
packaged whole school reform initiatives (with a college readiness function). The
remaining eight programmes provided a range of college access supports, typically
from outside agencies, to supplement the school. All 12 of the programmes included
in the analysis targeted low-SES students, although there was variation in whether
these students were academically high or low-performing. Most of the evaluated
programmes received government or state funding, or funding from charities.

Most of the programmes identified included an academic enrichment programme and
a counselling element, while some programmes provided personal enrichment and
social integration, mentoring, parental involvement, or scholarships.

Of the key outcomes of interest to the researchers, only high school graduation and
college/HE enrolment data were available for a sufficient number of studies to
support a meta-analysis. Three of the RCTs showed no significant impact on high
school graduation, but overall, on average across the 14 studies, college access

programmes were found to increase high school graduation rates by eight
percentage points.

In terms of the impact of college access programmes on enrolment in a 2-year or 4-
year college course, there was an average gain of 12 percentage points in terms of
students entering higher education. Just considering the results from the RCTs these
still showed a significant positive effect of college access programmes on students
entering HE, but the effect was smaller at a gain of 4 percentage points.

The authors suggested that more evaluation data needed to be collected on other
student outcomes from college readiness programmes, such as completion of course
work. They also suggested that given the variation in findings between RCTs and
QEDs, more work needed to be done to see how causal links were captured using
QEDs – given they tended to show more positive outcomes than when the RCT
method was used.

Enterprise Education Value and Direction (Pearson)

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This report, commissioned by the Education and Employers Taskforce and the
Pearson Think Tank, explored the provision and practice of enterprise education in
schools, as a way of better preparing young people for the world of work and
contributing to the economy. The study looked at what was currently meant by
enterprise education as well as entrepreneurship, the potential impact of schools
providing enterprise education, and how such education should best be delivered.
The study was based on: a national survey of 987 young people (aged 19–24) about
the perceived usefulness of enterprise education, including looking back at their own
experiences of enterprise activities at school, a literature review of 107 publications
and consultation with 77 relevant stakeholders including businesses and teachers.

Key findings from the study:

A wide variety of definitions of enterprise education were identified in the literature
and among the 77 stakeholders involved in the study. In terms of words associated
with enterprise education, of the 77 stakeholders consulted the most frequently cited
words were: innovation, creativity and ideas (mentioned by 43 of the stakeholders).
Fewer than half (34 stakeholders) made reference to finance or economics when
asked to define enterprise education, while less than a third (24 stakeholders)
connected enterprise education with self-employment and start-ups.

The authors found limited evidence in the literature of a wider social or economic
impact as a result of providing enterprise education, and identified this issue as a
research gap.

The survey of young adults aged 19–24 commissioned as part of the study asked
about their prior experience, if any, of any form of enterprise education. The findings
showed that participation levels varied, with former independent and grammar school
students being more likely to have participated in enterprise education, especially in
terms of sustained enterprise projects, than their state educated counterparts.

Young people taking part in the survey who had experienced enterprise education in
the past, tended to value the opportunity of engaging in enterprise activities. Some

42 percent said that involvement in enterprise had had a positive effect in terms of
securing a job, and just over a third (35 percent) thought learning about enterprise
helped them get a job after completing their education, whilst a similar percentage
(39 percent) said that having experienced enterprise education had helped them
secure a place in higher education.

Young people in the survey reported that enterprise activity undertaken after the age
of 16 was seen as being more useful than enterprise education undertaken at 14–16
and was more likely to have been an optional rather than compulsory element of the
educational experience.

Stakeholders believed that enterprise education was more likely to help young
people prepare for the labour market compared to improving their career than to
achieve academically. While, evidence from Ofsted suggested that enterprise
activities helped students develop team and problem-solving skills, but that the
underpinning knowledge, economic and business understanding and financial
capability, was often lacking.

The survey findings suggested that delivery of enterprise education at 16–19 was
perceived to be of greater value than delivery at 14–16 in terms of three outcome
areas: deciding on a career, getting a job after education and getting into HE. The
survey findings also suggested that greater impact may be achieved by enterprise
education taking the form of longer term project work rather than one day activities
(both these models were said to exist in enterprise education).

Students awareness of costs and benefits of educational decisions: effects of
an information campaign (Centre for the Economics of Education)

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The authors of this study suggested that one reason students, particularly those from
low income backgrounds, may drop out of higher education is that they are not well
informed about the costs and benefits of staying on in education at an appropriate
time of their educational career when they are making choices. This study tested
their hypothesis by investigating students’ knowledge and their receptiveness to
information campaigns about the costs and benefits of staying on in education. The
authors designed an ‘information campaign’ that provided simple facts about
economic and financial aspects of educational decisions and tested students’
response to this campaign. This took the form of a video and presentation for the
teachers to use and a one page information flyer that teachers could hand out to their
students. The fieldwork for the information campaign took place over the first two
terms of 2010-2011 - the period when increases in university fees were announced.
This timing was seen to provide an opportunity to measure students’ receptiveness to
the publicity in the media about the announcements about fees. Over 12,000 pupils
from 54 schools took part in the research. Within each school, all 14/15 year olds
(Year 10) completed a survey at the start of the study and then completed a similar
survey 8-12 weeks later. Schools were randomly assigned into two groups with
‘treatment’ schools getting the specially commissioned information materials between
the two surveys and ‘control schools’ getting the materials some time after the
second survey. The purpose was to test whether students in treatment schools
showed any change in knowledge and aspirations 8-12 weeks later compared to
students in the control schools. The authors also looked at the relationship between
the number of media reports on tuition fees (on the BBC website) and students’

knowledge and aspirations at the time of each survey. The main difference between
the researchers ‘ information campaign materials and the media reports was that the
media emphasised the rise in university fees, without providing the favourable terms
of loans and the availability of grants as the campaign materials did.

Key findings from the study:

The results showed that students in participating schools had significant gaps in their
basic knowledge about the costs and benefits of staying in education and going to
university. However, the information experiment and media reporting worked in the
same direction for knowledge of when fees were paid, increasing the probability of
students correctly understanding the basics of when fees are paid by 5.8 and 9
percentage points respectively (from a baseline of 46 percent of students, who knew
the right answer in the first survey).

The information experiment increased the likelihood of students agreeing that
‘student loans were a cheaper/better way to borrow money than other types of
borrowing’ by 7.6 percentage points (from a baseline of 48.6 percent) while simply
media reporting had no effect.

For the perceived importance of financial constraints on staying in education, the
information experiment and media reporting had opposite effects. The information
campaign tended to lead students to think that staying in education would be
affordable (loan conditions and grants were explained) whereas media reporting
alone led students to think that going to university would be ‘too expensive’. For
example, the proportion of students put off by financial aspects of university fell by 5
percentage points as a result of the information experiment.

Media reporting tended to increase the negative perceptions of affordability with the
proportion of students put off by financial aspects of university increasing by 6.5
percentage points. This was regarded as a large impact when put alongside the
baseline levels of agreement of 25.7 percent.

On knowledge about the benefits of staying in education, media reporting had no
effect but the information experiment increased the probability that students
perceived that they had a better chance of getting a job if they stayed in education to
the age of 18 or if they went to university. The information experiment also reduced
the probability of agreeing with (incorrect) statements about choice of subject and

Finally, the information experiment had an impact on whether students planned to
stay in education - but no impact on university intentions. But the effect of media
reporting was to reduce the probability of stating ‘it is very likely I will ever apply to
university to do a degree’ by four percentage points.

The authors concluded that media reporting and a fairly ‘light-touch’ information
campaign had differing affects on student attitudes, at least in the short-term. They
also suggested that a fairly light-touch information campaign in schools could reverse
negative media messages by providing rounded view of the reforms, stressing the
availability of grants and how loans can be repaid, rather than focusing on the
increase in fees per se. An information campaign like the one used in this project was
seen as being potentially effective and at a low cost.


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