Graduate Coaching Programme

The Perry Beeches coaching programme provided regular academic tutoring to Year 7 pupils struggling with reading and writing. The intervention was delivered through one-to-one or small group sessions with a trained coach, usually a graduate.


Key Stage 3

Key stage




EEF Summary

The EEF funded this study partly because graduate coaching programmes of this type are popular with schools, and partly because of existing evidence of the effectiveness of small group and one to one tuition.

The study found a large positive impact on pupil outcomes. Pupils involved in the intervention made five months’ additional progress in literacy, compared to other pupils. Exploratory analysis found impacts to be highest when a larger amount of contact time was provided, although there may have been some inconsistency with the way different schools recorded contact time.

Providing extra graduate contact time for pupils may be effective, but it is also expensive: this programme cost around £1400 per pupil per year. While funding graduate coaches could be an effective intervention for struggling pupils, it may not be a cost effective approach to improving attainment for all.  

Research Results

Reading, spelling and grammar

Months' Progress
Evidence Strength

Reading, spelling and grammar (FSM)

Months' Progress


Were the schools in the trial similar to my school?

Of the four schools involved, two were rated as outstanding by Ofsted, while one was rated good and the other was rated as requiring improvement.

Around 60% of the pupils were eligible for free school meals, and 20% had English as an additional language. 

Could I implement this in my school?

This approach isn’t available as a programme for schools to purchase, however schools may be able to implement a similar approach without purchasing an external programme and the report has useful learnings for schools who are considering this kind of approach.


External Tutors

Delivered by



Participant group


1 Year

Intervention length

How much will it cost?

The programme we evaluated cost £1,400 per pupil for 1 year. 



Cost per pupil


0.0 Days

Training time per staff member

Evaluation info





Key Stage

Key Stage 3

Start date

February 2012

End date

February 2014

Type of trial

Efficacy Trial

Evaluation Conclusions

  1. The programme had a positive impact on pupils’ attainment in reading, spelling and grammar, equivalent to approximately five additional months’ progress. The evaluation did not seek to prove that the approach would work in all schools, but did identify strong evidence of promise.

  2. The programme had a similar effect for pupils eligible for free school meals as for their peers.

  3. There was considerable variation in the way that the initiative was delivered across the four schools. Pupils received a mixture of one to one and small group support, but the frequency and duration of sessions ranged widely between schools and students. There was also variation in the training and supervision coaches received.

  4. Coaches felt that pupils engaged well with the variety of sessions and that both one to one and small group work was beneficial. However, it was not possible to identify the precise contribution of one to one sessions and greater definition of the approach may be required were the approach to be trialled in a larger number of schools.

  5. The cost of the programme was high compared to other literacy catch-up approaches—including those delivered one to one—due to the salary costs of coaches and the intensity of support provided.

  1. Updated: 12th June, 2019

    Printable project summary

    1 MB pdf - EEF-graduate-coaching-programme.pdf

  2. Updated: 8th May, 2019

    Evaluation Report

    691 KB pdf - Perry_Beeches.pdf

  3. Updated: 8th May, 2019

    Evaluation Protocol

    232 KB pdf - Perry_Beeches_FINAL_PROTOCOL.pdf

Full project description

The Graduate Coaching Programme aimed to improve the reading and writing skills of Year 7 pupils with low levels of attainment in four English secondary schools.

Across the project, delivered by Perry Beeches School in Birmingham, 16 coaches were employed to provide academic support to pupils who had not reached level 4c in English at the end of Key Stage 2. Originally it had been intended that pupils would only receive one-to-one support, and that all coaches would be graduates. However, in practice pupils received a range of targeted support that varied between schools and most, but not all, coaches were graduates.

The programme built on a successful pilot in Perry Beeches and the school co-ordinated the project across participating schools. The approach was based on a one to one coaching programme used in Match Charter School in Boston, USA.

This project sought to assess the impact of the programme on the academic outcomes of 186 students who were offered support during the 2013-14 school year.

The study was funded by the Education Endowment Foundation as one of 24 projects in a themed round on literacy catch-up at the primary–secondary transition. Projects funded within this round aimed to identify effective ways to support pupils not achieving level 4 in English at the end of Key Stage 2.