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Responding to the EEF’s evidence review

Last month the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) shared a review of the evidence on ‘The Impact of COVID-19 on Learning.  In our urgency to move back towards normality and as the memories of lockdowns and school closures start to fade, it’s easy to underestimate the impact this period has had on our students, their learning and education more collectively.  However, this review and the research on which it’s based, clearly demonstrate that to do so would be an egregious mistake.  

Chief Executive of the EEF, Becky Francis has said during the midst of the pandemic, ‘teachers and school leaders worked tirelessly to mitigate the negative impacts of the pandemic on the children and young people in their care,’ but at the time, little evidence was available to inform their efforts. Now, two years further into the pandemic, robust evidence is emerging and ‘It is more important than ever that practitioners have access to the information they need to make sure that their efforts and resources are targeted towards meeting their pupils’ needs.’ 

In our efforts to support evidence informed practice, we would like to share the key findings presented in this EEF review:

  • COVID-19-related disruption has negatively impacted the attainment of all pupils, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • There is evidence that the attainment gap between disadvantaged students and their classmates has grown.
  • There is some evidence that in primary schools, younger year groups (Key Stage 1 pupils) have been the most significantly affected, with lower attainment than previous cohorts across all subjects. Other recent research shows particularly negative impacts for pupils in KS3 (DfE, 2021, 2022).  
  • Most evidence shows that despite some recovery by summer 2021, on average pupils were not performing as well in both maths and reading as pre-pandemic cohorts.  
  • Aside from the impact on attainment, which this report focuses on, teachers have frequently reported concerns around the effect on pupil wellbeing. There is also emerging evidence that suggests the pandemic has negatively impacted children’s mental health. 

For both Tute and our partners, we will need to consider how we can best support students in overcoming these challenges.  How can the attainment of students be enhanced and the attainment gap narrowed? How can those most significantly impacted be best supported? How might students’ performance in maths and reading be improved? And perhaps most significantly, how can this be done whilst ensuring children’s mental health and wellbeing are able to recover and not negatively impacted further? 

As is often the case in education, there is no one-size fits all solution to these issues, but there is support available.  The EEF’s Teaching and Learning Toolkit and Guidance Reports provide evidence of intervention, strategies and their impacts, as they have done in the past.  However, the new ‘Moving forwards, making a difference: A planning guide for schools 2022–23’ document advocates a tiered model of support; high quality teaching, targeted academic support and a range of wider strategies.  This guide and the research evidence that informs it strongly resonates with our own practices at Tute and will continue to inform our pedagogy as we support our schools and partners: 

  • Both as part of the NTP and independent of it, Tute has been used to offer tiered models of support, be that through 1-2-1 learning programmes, small group tuition or larger group interventions. 
  • High quality teaching is the very foundation of Tute’s practice.  Not only are all our teachers fully qualified, but they undertake thorough training to support them in evolving their online pedagogy and are quality assured by our quality assurance team. In fact, the teaching and teachers are frequently identified as strengths by our students in our student feedback surveys. 
  • Targeted academic support is easy to provide when utilising our extensive menu of TuteGo lessons (a pre-built bank of learning resources mapped to the curriculum) or, if needs are more bespoke, our Learning Programmes can be built by our teachers to target specific needs that are identified by the school.  We would always encourage our schools to utilise a diagnostic pre-assessment to identify where gaps in students’ learning exist and select lessons to support in the plugging of these gaps. A post assessment is a great way to assess the impact of the lessons too.  

The emphasis on using evidence informed approaches to support students in both recent EEF publications discussed above and the Opportunity For All white paper published in March, is clear and is also a real passion for us at Tute. 

Dr. Sharon Smith
Impact and Evaluation Manager

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