Plain English Summary
Background and study aims
The aim of this study is to find out whether the Research Learning Communities (RLC) intervention improves teaching quality and learning outcomes by raising teachers’ awareness, understanding, and use of educational research in their teaching practice.
Who can participate?
Primary schools with pupils at Key Stage 2 (age 11)
What does the study involve?
Participating schools are randomly allocated to the control group or the intervention group. The control group schools receive no intervention. At the intervention group schools, two Evidence Champion teachers from each school attend four RLC workshops each year with peers from up to four other schools. Workshops are delivered by academics from the Institute of Education at University College London and examine research relating to an area of interest agreed with the schools (for example improving literacy or numeracy via growth mindsets). The Evidence Champions are then required to develop, apply and evaluate school or key-stage wide improvement strategies using the learning from the workshops; and to support other teachers in the school, aiming to raise their awareness, understanding and use of research. The intervention runs for two academic years (from October 2014 to June 2016). Teacher awareness, understanding and use of research is measured with a survey and Key Stage 2 reading, grammar, punctuation and spelling outcomes for Year 6 pupils are assessed using national Key Stage 2 tests.
What are the possible benefits and risks of participating?
Possible benefits include teachers developing a greater understanding of research to inform practice, and subsequent improvement in practice and pupil attainment. Possible risks include time spent away from the classroom learning about research, and increased workload for teachers if schools do not arrange adequate cover.
Where is the study run from?
University College London (UK)
When is the study starting and how long is it expected to run for?
May 2014 to October 2016
Who is funding the study?
Education Endowment Foundation (UK)
Who is the main contact?
Dr Jo Rose
EEF RLC Evaluation
A school randomised control trial to evaluate the impact of the developer-led research learning communities intervention
Teachers in schools that participate in Research Learning Communities will have better engagement with research (as measured by teacher survey) than teachers in control schools.
Pupils in schools that participate in Research Learning Communities will have higher attainment at Key Stage 2 (age 11) than pupils in control schools.
There will be a positive relationship between teachers' engagement in research (as measured by teacher survey) and pupil attainment at Key Stage 2 (age 11).
University of Bristol, Faculty of Social Sciences and Law Committee for Research Ethics, 14/07/2014, ref: 9142 – EEF Research Learning Communities Evaluation
Whole-school randomised efficacy trial
Primary study design
Secondary study design
Randomised controlled trial
Patient information sheet
Not available in web format, please use the contact details to request a patient information sheet
Teachers' engagement with research and how that relates to pupil attainment at Key Stage 2 (age 11)
Schools were allocated to treatment and control groups using the minimisation method in MinimPy, to ensure balance of school-level variables of size of school, %FSM, and attainment at KS2. The sample size was not large enough to warrant balancing on further variables as well. It was important to be aware of school alliances in this process. In total, 119 schools were recruited, though some signed up to the intervention in federations or alliances, and some as individual schools. Where groups of schools signed up, the size of the group determined how they were treated in the randomisation:
1. Large alliances of 6 schools or more (n= 5) were split into two groups using the minimisation method, based on size of school, percentage of pupils eligible for free school meals (FSM), and KS2 attainment. Of these split alliances, one group was randomly allocated to the treatment condition, and one to the controlcondition
2. The remaining schools recruited were in units of either single schools (n=54), or federations or alliances comprising pairs (n=6), or groups of three (n=3), or four (n=3) schools. This gave 71 units in total. These units were allocated to the treatment or control group using the minimisation method, based on size of unit (single school, two or three schools, and four or five schools), average size of school in each unit, average percentage of pupils eligible for free school meals (FSM) in each unit, and average KS2 attainment in each unit.
The majority of units comprised single schools, but this method allowed for federations of schools or alliances who signed up because they wanted to work together. Using this method, 60 primary schools were allocated to the treatment group and 59 schools were allocated to the control group.
The treatment condition involves two or three designated "Evidence Champions" (one senior leader, and one other teacher) from 3-5 primary schools working together in a "Research Learning Community" (RLC). Each RLC meets 4 times per year to engage with research evidence around a specific topic of their choice, then plan, conduct and evaluate their own action research projects in their schools. In Year 1 the workshops are led by facilitators from the intervention team, in Year 2 the facilitators are present but sessions are led by Evidence Champions. The role of Evidence Champions also involves engaging and enthusing teachers in their own schools about research evidence.
The control condition involves no intervention.
Total duration of the intervention: October 2014 - June 2016.
Primary outcome measure
Pupil attainment at Key Stage 2 (age 11) in Reading, assessed using national Key Stage 2 tests: baseline Key Stage 1 data collected in May 2012 and Key Stage 2 data collected in May 2016
Secondary outcome measures
1. Pupil attainment at Key Stage 2 (age 11) in Numeracy, and Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling, assessed using national Key Stage 2 tests: baseline Key Stage 1 data collected in May 2012 and Key Stage 2 data collected in May 2016
2. Teacher engagement, understanding and use of research, measured using teacher survey in two rounds: July - October 2015 and July - October 2016
Overall trial start date
Overall trial end date
Reason abandoned (if study stopped)
Participant inclusion criteria
Inclusion criteria were at school level:
1. Primary school with pupils at KS2 (age 11)
2. Head teacher and chairman of governors having signed Memorandum of Understanding.
3. 100% of Y5 and Y6 teachers in the school completing baseline teacher survey
4. 75% of KS2 teachers overall in the school completing baseline teacher survey
Target number of participants
110 schools (55 in each condition)
Total final enrolment
Participant exclusion criteria
1. Not having signed memorandum of understanding
2. Not having pupils at Key Stage 2
3. Not having enough teachers complete baseline survey
Recruitment start date
Recruitment end date
Countries of recruitment
Trial participating centre
Institute of Education, University College London
Trial participating centre
School of Education, University of Bristol
35 Berkeley Square
Education Endowment Foundation
Funding Body Type
Funding Body Subtype
Results and Publications
Publication and dissemination plan
Protocol and statistical analysis plan (SAP): These are available on the EEF website here https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/projects-and-evaluation/projects/research-learning-communities/. Specifically, the protocol is here: https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/public/files/Projects/Evaluation_Protocols/EEF_Project_Protocol_Research_use-_Research_Learning_Communities_protocol_amended_May_2016.pdf and the SAP is here: https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/public/files/Projects/Evaluation_Protocols/SAP_Research_learning_communities.pdf
The full report will be published on the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) website in November 2017. Planned publication in high-impact peer reviewed journals expected in 2019.
IPD sharing statement
Pupil Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 educational attainment data from the National Pupil Database (NPD) is stored in the EEF Data Archive. Opt-out parental consent was given for this data storage. Data is anonymised using Unique Pupil Identifiers (which are standard for use in the NPD). Access to this data will be via EEF's Small Grants Programme (contact the EEF for more information on email@example.com ).
Intention to publish date
Participant level data
Stored in repository
Basic results (scientific)
2017 results in https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED581267.pdf (added 08/04/2020)