Condition category
Not Applicable
Date applied
Date assigned
Last edited
Retrospectively registered
Overall trial status
Recruitment status
No longer recruiting

Plain English Summary

Background and study aims
The Focus for Teacher Assessment of Primary Science (Focus4TAPS) intervention operationalises assessment for learning applied to Working Scientifically at primary school, including teachers (and pupils) gaining enhanced understanding of progression in Working Scientifically, applying formative assessment strategies, and adapting levels of support and challenge during lessons across an academic year.

Who can participate?
Year 5 pupils in the classes of teachers who have had the training.

What does the study involve?
Schools are randomly allocated to one of two groups: treatment or control group.
Within the treatment group, teachers attend CPD days and will be provided with example plans and activities for use in their classrooms. Teachers select five TAPS plans from the bank of 40+, to carry out as gap tasks during the year, using largely everyday materials which will be found in school. Teachers will be supported through the TAPS training and resources to select a focus for teaching, learning and assessment for each of their practical science lessons. They will use their new understanding of progression in Working Scientifically and new formative assessment strategies to adapt the level of support and challenge during subsequent lessons. By focusing on a different element of Working Scientifically each lesson, they consider the full breadth of enquiry skills across the year.
The control group will continue as if they were not participating in the study.
The trial originally began in the academic year 2019/2020, however the trial was paused in March 2020 because of the COVID 19 pandemic. The trial resumed from September 2020 for the academic year 2020/2021, with the same schools but with a new cohort of Year 5 students. This therefore meant that teachers required training again, the sessions were conducted online with some training to be conducted offline in teachers own time. The training followed the original format of having access to training in each term.

What are the possible benefits and risks of participating?
Ensuring that teachers and pupils have a shared understanding of learning aims and criteria for success, providing feedback to pupils, and more generally fostering assessment for learning may plausibly enhance attainment although it remains possible that any observed results may vary. Concurrently, the focus on broadly enhancing the teaching of Working Scientifically (inherently involving practical work) may help address the need for support within this area, and this may be (more generally) also enjoyed and appreciated by pupils.
Risks, other than missing out on a potentially beneficial programme if placed in the control group, are minimal.

Where is the study run from?
Focus4TAPS is delivered by class teachers who attend CPD days. There will be two trainers for each region: Dr Sarah Earle from Bath Spa University and one other experienced TAPS practitioner. A senior school leader will be invited to attend the introductory session, so that they understand the trial and can enable the attending teachers to carry out the intervention.

When is the study starting and how long is it expected to run for?
August 2018 to September 2022.
The trial recruited from December 2018 to April 2019; after the pause due to the COVID 19 pandemic, schools affirmed their engagement over the summer of 2020.
The trial started in the academic year beginning September 2019 but was paused due to COVID 19. The trial then started again in the academic year beginning September 2020 and will continue for one academic year.

Who is funding the study?
The Education Endowment Foundation (UK)

Who is the main contact?
Dr Tamjid Mujtaba,

Trial website

Contact information



Primary contact

Dr Tamjid Mujtaba


Contact details

UCL Institute of Education
University College London
20 Bedford Way
United Kingdom
+44 (0)20 7612 6000



Additional contact

Dr Tamjid Mujtaba


Contact details

UCL Institute of Education
University College London
20 Bedford Way
United Kingdom
+44 (0)20 7612 6000

Additional identifiers

EudraCT number

Nil known number

Nil known

Protocol/serial number

Nil known

Study information

Scientific title

Focus for Teacher Assessment of Primary Science



Study hypothesis

Focus4TAPS will improve pupils’ science attainment and attitudes towards science.

Ethics approval

Approved on 29/11/2018 UCL Institute of Education Research Ethics Committee (UCL Institute of Education, University College London, 20 Bedford Way, London, WC1H 0AL, UK; no telephone number provided;, reference REC1146

Study design

Interventional school-level cluster randomized controlled trial

Primary study design


Secondary study design

Cluster randomised trial

Trial setting


Trial type

Quality of life

Patient information sheet


Pupils’ science attainment and attitudes towards science


The participants (school pupils) are not blinded, but the outcome measurement is. The intervention applies a school-level randomisation approach, via stratified randomisation (using geographic regions as strata). Random allocation into the intervention and the control group is on a 1:1 basis within each geographic region. Stratified randomisation is necessary (rather than simple randomisation) due to the intervention training being delivered to (regional) groups of schools.

Treatment: Teachers attended CPD days in the academic year 2019/2020 and were provided with example plans and activities for use in their classrooms. They will be given more training with the re-start of the trial in each term. Teachers select five TAPS plans from the bank of 40+, to carry out as gap tasks during the year, using largely everyday materials which will be found in school.

Control: Business as usual.

Intervention type



Drug names

Primary outcome measure

Science attainment, measured towards the end of academic Year 5 using an adapted version of the Thinking, Doing, Talking Science (TDTS) test.

At the time of the writing of the proposal for this trial, the EEF commissioned a piece of work for an external team to compare the TDTS instrument to the current national curriculum to assess the extent to which it corresponded to the latest programmes of study. The conclusion was that there is a poor match between the current version of the TDTS test and the current national curriculum. Thus, while the preferred primary outcome measure continues to be the TDTS test, this will rely in part on any adaptations to the test being externally tested (which are underway at the time of writing this statistical analysis plan), and for these to show good psychometric properties. In the case that there are poor psychometric properties, the evaluation team will use another measure for the primary outcome of this trial. This will be the GL Assessment Progress Test in Science (PTS).

Secondary outcome measures

Science attitudes measured through questionnaire responses collected towards the end of academic Year 5.

Overall trial start date


Overall trial end date


Reason abandoned (if study stopped)


Participant inclusion criteria

Schools will be eligible for the intervention if:
1. The school has children in Year 5 during the 2020-2021 academic year
2. The school has not taken part in the Thinking Doing Talking Science trial, the Primary Science Quality Mark (from 2017 onwards), or the TAPS project

Participant type


Age group




Target number of participants

140 schools (clusters), with an estimated 25 pupils per school. This number was achieved but after the project was paused because of the COVID 19 pandemic, a few schools were unable to come back to the restart of the trial because of pandemic related issues.

Participant exclusion criteria

Parents had the opportunity to choose to opt their children out of the trial; such children will be excluded from all analysis.

Recruitment start date


Recruitment end date



Countries of recruitment

United Kingdom

Trial participating centre

UCL Institute of Education
UCL Institute of Education University College London 20 Bedford Way
United Kingdom

Sponsor information


Education Endowment Foundation

Sponsor details

9th Floor
Millbank Tower
21-24 Millbank
United Kingdom
+44 (0)20 7802 1676

Sponsor type




Funder type


Funder name

Education Endowment Foundation

Alternative name(s)


Funding Body Type

private sector organisation

Funding Body Subtype

Trusts, charities, foundations (both public and private)


United Kingdom

Results and Publications

Publication and dissemination plan

An Evaluation Report will be published in Spring 2022, which will include the impact estimates for the primary and secondary outcomes. This will be published on the study page of the Education Endowment Foundation website.

IPD sharing statement:
The datasets generated during and/or analysed during the current study will be stored in a non-publically available repository
Data collected as part of EEF-funded evaluations are archived in order to estimate the long-term impact of the interventions, to better understand variation in children’s outcomes across evaluations, and to improve the methodological approaches we use to evaluate this impact. The EEF data archive is managed by FFT Education (FFT). At the end of an evaluation, the independent evaluator submits the data directly to FFT via a secure portal, for storing in a UK environment compliant with the Government’s 14 Cloud Security Principles.

Intention to publish date


Participant level data

Stored in repository

Basic results (scientific)

Publication list

Publication citations

Additional files

Editorial Notes

18/11/2020: Trial’s existence confirmed by University College London.