EEF publishes new findings from reach and engagement evaluation

The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) has today published findings from a nimble randomised controlled trial (RCT) which compared the effectiveness of different types of school recruitment emails in encouraging schools to sign up for the Tuition Partners pillar of the National Tutoring Programme (NTP).

As part of the trial, led by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), almost 2,000 primary, secondary and special schools were sent one of two emails— one of which included a headteacher testimonial about the benefits of tutoring, whilst the other provided an overview of the evidence underpinning tuition.

These emails were sent by approved NTP Tuition partner, EM Tuition, to schools across Hertfordshire, Essex, North London, East of England and Suffolk during February and March 2021. Subsequently, a team at NFER analysed the impact of the different recruitment emails on the proportion of schools signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) or providing an Expression of Interest (EoI) for their pupils to receive tutoring from EM Tuition as part of the TP programme.

Key findings:

  • The impact evaluation found no evidence to suggest that the inclusion of a headteacher testimonial or evidence summary on the benefits of tutoring, impacted schools’ decisions around whether or not to sign up for tutoring for their pupils. However, the small number of MoUs and EoIs received limited the possibility to compare the outcomes across the two groups.
  • On the other hand, the process evaluation found that three factors did seem to affect schools’ decisions about whether to engage with this pillar of the NTP: the perceived educational value of tutoring (a view already in place and mostly unaffected by the headteacher testimonial or evidence summary); considerations of the practical delivery of tutoring; and affordability of tutoring provision.
  • Finally, the report highlighted a few recommendations. Tutoring recruitment emails could be enhanced with greater clarity about the logistics of tutoring provision, particularly emphasising the flexibility to adapt the support to schools’ and their pupils’ needs, and also by providing clarity on costs. Brief examples of how other schools have implemented the support could be useful.

It is possible that contextual factors such as partial school closures and the information available about the NTP from different sources may have impacted on schools’ responsiveness to the recruitment email from EM Tuition.

Email communication was just one part of the NTP’s multifaceted school engagement strategy. Three further reports, which will evaluate other aspects of this strategy, are to be published later in the year.

The EEF has been managing the Tuition Partners (TP) pillar of the National Tutoring Programme (NTP) in 2020-21, funded as part of the Government coronavirus catch-up package. The TP programme allows schools to access subsidised tuition from a list of thirty-three tuition partners, quality-approved by the EEF, to support pupils who have missed out the most as a result of school closures due to the Covid-19 pandemic.