About the study
The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) have asked the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) to evaluate Focus4TAPS. Focus4TAPS was developed by Bath Spa University, drawing on research from the Teacher Assessment in Primary Science (TAPS) project. It provides 3 days of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) training for teachers to implement Focused Assessment lessons within the classroom. Focus4TAPS aims to provide resources and activities that can be easily integrated into regular science teaching as Focused Assessment lessons are intended to support the teaching of ‘Working Scientifically’ and the delivery of science content within the Year 5 curriculum.
Our evaluation will help the EEF and the developers of the programme (Bath Spa University) to assess how effective it is. We want to understand what impact the programme has on Year 5 pupils’ science attainment. We also want to understand how Focus4TAPS is delivered in schools.
Who is carrying out the research?
This is a major study and several different organisations are collaborating on it. They are:
- The National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) - Responsible for evaluating the programme. NatCen is Britain’s largest and oldest social research organisation. We have delivered several school-based studies for charities and the government about what works in education, and are experts at research that involves pupils, young people and teachers. We are a non-profit organisation, independent of government departments and political parties.
- Bath Spa University (BSU) – Responsible for developing the programme, recruitment for the evaluation, and development and delivery of the training. Bath Spa University is the largest Initial Teacher Education provider in the South West, working with over 600 school partners. It is the home of Focus4TAPS and currently the Sunday Times University of the Year for Social Inclusion.
- Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) – Responsible for funding the study and overall management of programme delivery and evaluation. The EEF is an independent charity dedicated to breaking the link between family income and educational achievement. They run projects to test the effectiveness of education programmes to improve outcomes for children across the UK.
What will taking part involve?
In this study, we will test the impact of Focus4TAPS on science attainment in Year 5 using a randomised controlled trial. The evaluation will compare Focus4TAPS against usual science teaching in comparable primary schools. Schools will be randomly assigned either to receive the Focus4TAPS programme (the intervention group) or to continue teaching as usual (the control group). The evaluation will focus on Year 5 pupils during the 2024-2025 school year, though recruitment and assignment to the control or intervention group will take place in the current school year (2023-2024). Randomised controlled trials are considered the strongest type of evaluation to work out if a programme is having an impact.
Schools randomly assigned to the intervention group will receive Focus4TAPS, while schools randomly assigned to the control group will continue with usual teaching and learning activities in science.
All schools will share the following pupil data:
- first name and surname
- date of birth
- Unique Pupil Number (UPN)
- free school meal status
- pupil’s class
- pupil’s teacher.
Schools will also provide school-level average Key Stage 1 maths and reading scores from the 2021-2022 academic year. This will be uploaded using the template provided by the evaluation team, via a secure project website. These data will be used to link information from the National Pupil Database (NPD) to evaluation outcomes.
Teachers involved in the evaluation (intervention and control) will be asked to complete surveys at the beginning and end of the programme. Teachers in the intervention group will also be asked to complete some short activities as part of the training provided.
Some teachers in the intervention group may also be invited to participate in a focus group (online) or a lesson observation (in person).
All pupils with parental consent in the selected Year 5 classes (intervention and control) will be asked to complete an age-appropriate survey about their attitudes towards science and their experiences of science teaching and learning at the beginning and end of the programme. They will also be asked to complete a science test covering the Year 5 science curriculum at the end of the programme.
Some pupils in the intervention group may also be invited to participate in a focus group to understand what they think of the programme, which would take place in person. Parents of these children will be contacted separately to provide consent for this closer to the time.
Parents/carers who do not want their child’s information to be used in the evaluation can contact their child’s teacher or the Focus4TAPS lead at their school. They can also contact the NatCen research team using the contact details below.
|Schools sign up to the project (first come, first served!)
|Schools send the information sheet to parents and submit pupil data and KS1 results to NatCen
|NatCen informs schools which group (intervention or control) they will be randomly assigned to
|At least one representative from each school (e.g. Science lead, Year 5 teacher, or SLT) to attend an online introductory meeting run by BSU
|NatCen to inform consenting intervention schools if they have been selected to be a case study school
|Baseline data collection (pupil science test and teacher survey)
|Sept 2024-July 2025
|Endline data collection (pupil science tests, pupil surveys, teacher surveys, and Science lead surveys)
What will happen to any information I give?
The information that we collect will be used for evaluation purposes only. We will not use the names of teachers, schools, staff members or pupils when reporting our findings. All information will be treated confidentially. All data will be transferred and stored securely in accordance with GDPR, and personal information and any other data held on the project will be archived for research purposes and then NatCen will securely delete any data they hold once the evaluation is complete.
Data from the evaluation will be shared with Bath Spa University, the Department for Education and the Office for National Statistics. It will also be stored in the Education Endowment Foundation archive (managed by FFT Education) where other research teams can access it. This data will be pseudonymised, which means that any information that might identify an individual teacher or pupil will be removed before the data is shared with the other organisations. Data may also be shared in an anonymised form with other research terms in the future.
All pupil information collected as part of the study will be treated with the strictest confidence by the project team in line with the requirements of the GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018. You can find further information about data collection, sharing and storing in the Privacy Notice.
If you have any questions about the Focus4TAPS programme, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have any queries about this evaluation, please contact the research team via email at email@example.com.