Condition category
Not Applicable
Date applied
04/09/2015
Date assigned
13/10/2015
Last edited
13/10/2015
Prospective/Retrospective
Retrospectively registered
Overall trial status
Ongoing
Recruitment status
No longer recruiting

Plain English Summary

Background and study aims
In the UK, students have long been divided into groups based on their ability in schools, particularly for academic subjects such as English and Math. This is based on the principle that children do not all learn the same way or at the same pace. This practice is often debated by teachers, as although it can be an efficient way to organize students, there are several problems with this arrangement. The first problem is that ability grouping tends to encourage segregation of students, for instance students from disadvantaged backgrounds are often placed in lower sets. The second problem is that students in lower sets tend to make less progress than those in higher sets, ever increasing the gap between their achievement levels, making it more difficult to “move up” a set. The aim of this study is to explore the long-term consequences for pupils in low sets, to find out whether the set the pupil is placed in has an impact on their performance in English and mathematics.

Who can participate?
Secondary schools which currently (or are willing to) divide children into sets for English and Math in year 7 and 8.

What does the study involve?
Included schools are randomly allocated into two groups. English and Math teachers at the schools included in the first group (intervention group) attend workshops which aim to improve teaching skills, and improve the curriculum for different sets in English and mathematics. Pupils are then assigned into one of four sets based on ability according to specific instructions for setting. Schools allocated to the second group (control group) continue with their usual teaching practices.

What are the possible benefits and risks of participating?
There are no direct benefits of participating, however students may benefit in the long run as this research will increase knowledge on education policies in England. There are no foreseeable risks of participating.

Where is the study run from?
National Foundation for Educational Research, Slough (UK)

When is the study starting and how long is it expected to run for?
March 2015 to November 2017

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

Who is the main contact?
Dr Ben Styles
b.styles@nfer.ac.uk

Trial website

http://www.nfer.ac.uk/research/projects/evaluation-of-best-practice-in-grouping-students.cfm

Contact information

Type

Scientific

Primary contact

Dr Ben Styles

ORCID ID

Contact details

National Foundation for Educational Research
The Mere
Upton Park
Slough
SL1 2DQ
United Kingdom
+44 (0)1753 637386
b.styles@nfer.ac.uk

Additional identifiers

EudraCT number

ClinicalTrials.gov number

Protocol/serial number

N/A

Study information

Scientific title

Randomised controlled trial of best practice in setting year 7 and 8 students within English and mathematics

Acronym

Study hypothesis

This study aims to explore poor outcomes for pupils in low sets and streams which are related to poor associated setting practice.

The primary research questions are:
1. What is the impact of best practice in setting on pupils’ attainment in mathematics?
2. What is the impact of best practice in setting on pupils’ attainment in English?

The secondary research questions are:
1. What is the impact of best practice in setting on pupils’ self-confidence in mathematics?
2. What is the impact of best practice in setting on pupils’ self-confidence in English?

Ethics approval

National Foundation for Educational Research Code of Practice Committee, 05/03/2015

Study design

Multi-centre cluster randomised controlled trial

Primary study design

Interventional

Secondary study design

Cluster randomised trial

Trial setting

Schools

Trial type

Quality of life

Patient information sheet

http://www.nfer.ac.uk/schools/taking-part-in-our-research/eefk---setting-initiative.cfm

Condition

This study aims to explore poor outcomes for pupils in low sets and streams which are related to poor associated setting practice.

Intervention

120 Secondary schools will be randomly allocated into the intervention group or the control group. For all schools, key stage 2 results will be used as baseline test data and GL assessment’s English and mathematics tests will be used as follow-up tests at the end of year 8, where a random sample of 60 pupils will be selected from each school.

Intervention group: Heads of Maths and English departments along with teachers delivering Maths and English to the Year 7 cohort in intervention schools will attend an initial workshop in July 2015. This will be focused on the KS3 leadership developing a department-wide approach to addressing the factors identified: Increasing fluidity, raising teacher expectations and pedagogy, improving access to the whole curriculum and higher status qualifications, improving pupil engagement and attitudes and tackling the self-fulfilling prophecy. There will be four workshops provided across the two-year intervention.

Control group: Schools from this group will continue with their student grouping practices as usual. Once they have completed the year 8 tests at the end of the trial, they will receive £1,000.

Intervention type

Other

Phase

Drug names

Primary outcome measures

Pupil attainment in English and maths will be measured using the New Progress in English (NPiE) and New Progress in Mathematics (NPiM) tests developed by GL assessment at the end of year 8 in summer 2017. Key stage 2 test results from academic year 2014-15 will be used to measure pupil attainment at baseline.

Secondary outcome measures

Pupils’ self confidence in English and mathematics will be measured using a pupil survey at the start of year 7 in September 2015 and at the end of year 8 in summer 2017.

Overall trial start date

12/03/2015

Overall trial end date

30/11/2017

Reason abandoned

Eligibility

Participant inclusion criteria

1. Schools that currently divide children into sets for English and/or maths in years 7 and 8
2. Schools willing to change practices to divide children into sets for English and/or maths in years 7 and 8

Participant type

Healthy volunteer

Age group

Child

Gender

Both

Target number of participants

120 Secondary schools. The grouping practices will be applied to Year 7 classes with an average cohort size of 180 pupils per school making it a total of 21,600 pupils involved in the study.

Participant exclusion criteria

Schools who organise and teach year 7 pupils in mixed-attainment groups.

Recruitment start date

26/03/2015

Recruitment end date

12/06/2015

Locations

Countries of recruitment

United Kingdom

Trial participating centre

National Foundation for Educational Research
The Mere Upton Park
Slough
SL1 2DQ
United Kingdom

Sponsor information

Organisation

Education Endowment Foundation (EEF)

Sponsor details

9th Floor
Millbank Tower
21 – 24 Millbank
London
SW1P 4QP
United Kingdom
+44 (0)207 802 1676
info@eefoundation.org.uk

Sponsor type

Government

Website

https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/

Funders

Funder type

Charity

Funder name

Education Endowment Foundation (EEF)

Alternative name(s)

Funding Body Type

Funding Body Subtype

Location

Results and Publications

Publication and dissemination plan

Education Endowment Foundation will publish a report on the results of the study.

Intention to publish date

30/11/2017

Participant level data

Stored in repository

Results - basic reporting

Publication summary

Publication citations

Additional files

Editorial Notes