IPEELL: Using Self-Regulation to Improve Writing

This page covers the first (efficacy) trial of Using Self-Regulation to Improve Writing, which tested whether it could work in schools under best possible conditions. To read about the second (effectiveness) trial - testing a scalable model under everyday conditions in a large number of schools - click here.

‘Self-Regulated Strategy Development’ or SRSD is an approach that supports the development of writing skills. It provides a clear structure that helps pupils to plan, monitor and evaluate their writing. 

IPEELL: Using Self-Regulation to Improve Writing

Calderdale Excellence Partnership

Using memorable experiences and self-regulation to support struggling writers

Evidence Strength
Impact (months)
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Key Stage 2, Key Stage 3

Key stage




EEF Summary

In 2012 the EEF funded this small study of the ‘IPEELL’ SRSD programme, for pupils making the transition from primary to secondary school. Year 6 and 7 pupils were given writing projects based on memorable experiences such as school trips. The IPEELL programme developers trained some teachers to use an SRSD approach to deliver these writing projects. Pupils whose teachers received the training were compared with pupils whose teachers did not.

The SRSD pupils made around 9 months’ additional progress in writing. Given the large impact and the strong prior evidence for SRSD, EEF funded a second trial of IPEELL, this time using a ‘scalable’ model that could reach more schools, without direct involvement from the developers.

In a second project, pupils using IPEELL for 2 years did make a small amount of additional progress compared to other pupils, but those using it for only one year appeared to make less progress. In addition, two years of IPEELL appears to have had a negative impact on maths and reading outcomes, possibly due to curriculum time being diverted towards writing.

There were some important differences between the two versions of IPEELL which might explain the different results. In particular, the ‘scalable’ model used teacher trainers who had never seen IPEELL delivered in the classroom, and was delivered in the last two years of primary school, rather than the end of Year 6 and first term of Year 7. Importantly, the second trial measured the average impact across all pupils, while the first looked only at pupils with low prior attainment. If we consider the results specifically for pupils with low prior attainment using IPEELL for two years, both trials show positive results, although the size of the impact is smaller for the scalable model.

For this reason, EEF is interested in whether another version of IPEELL can be developed, still scalable, but more similar to the original model, and targeted at Year 7 children with low prior attainment. Because of the mixed results to date, IPEELL is no longer listed as an EEF ‘promising project’. Schools considering IPEELL should carefully assess whether they can match the delivery conditions of the original, positive, project, and take measures to ensure that the increased focused on writing does not negatively affect reading and maths.

Research Results

Were the schools in the trial similar to my school?

The trial involved 23 primary schools and 3 secondary schools. All of the schools were located in West Yorkshire.

28% of pupils in the trial were eligible for free school meals. 

Could I implement this in my school?

The programme is currently offered by the National Literacy Trust, with 1.5 days of teacher training. The cost of this version is £350 for the first participant and £250 for each colleague. 



Delivered by


Whole Class

Participant group


2 Terms

Intervention length

How much will it cost?

The cost of the approach is estimated at £52 per pupil. This estimate includes training and materials (£60 per teacher or £2 per pupil), and the cost of memorable experiences (£50 per pupil). Estimates are based on a class of 30 pupils, and on training being delivered to a group of 30 teachers.



Cost per pupil


2 Days

Training time per staff member

Evaluation info





Key Stage

Key Stage 2

Start date

January 2012

End date

January 2014

Type of trial

Efficacy Trial

Evaluation Conclusions

  1. The approach had a strong positive effect on the writing outcomes of low attaining pupils at the transition from primary to secondary school among a sample of pupils in State schools in the West Yorkshire area.

  2. The approach had beneficial effects for both FSM and non-FSM pupils.

  3. These findings, in combination with existing evidence from the United States and elsewhere, suggest that the Self-Regulated Strategy Development approach has substantial promise as a literacy catch-up.

  4. A larger effectiveness trial could be commissioned to test the approach on a larger scale and with other age groups.

  5. Teachers were trained in the SRSD approach by the North American developers, but adapted it in some ways for an English context.

  1. Updated: 1st November, 2018

    Printable project summary

    1 MB pdf - EEF-ipeell-using-self-regulation-to-improve-writing.pdf

  2. Updated: 11th August, 2017

    Evaluation Report

    1 MB pdf - EEF_Evaluation_Report_-_Improving_Writing_Quality.pdf

Full project description

The project aimed to use memorable experiences and an approach called ‘Self-Regulated Strategy Development’ (SRSD) to help struggling writers in Years 6 and 7. SRSD provides a clear structure to help pupils plan, monitor and evaluate their writing. It aims to encourage pupils to take ownership of their work and can be used to teach most genres of writing, including narrative writing. Memorable experiences, such as trips to local landmarks or visits from World War II veterans, were used as a focus for writing lessons.

In this evaluation 23 primary schools and their Year 6 teachers in the Calderdale area of West Yorkshire were randomly allocated to receive training, from an external consultant, in the SRSD approach. Twelve schools were allocated to the comparison group and 11 schools to the intervention group. Children in the intervention schools were taught following the SRSD approach in the last six weeks of the summer term in Year 6 and in the first term of Year 7 at secondary school. The project was organised by the Calderdale Excellence Partnership.

The study was funded by the Education Endowment Foundation as one of 23 projects focused on literacy catch-up at the primary-secondary transition. It was one of three programmes with a particular focus on writing.