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Durham University

Durham University Evidence Centre for Education (DECE)

DECE latest news

New Book: Getting Evidence into Education: Evaluating the Routes to Policy and Practice

A new book will be published on the 20th of April 2020, called Getting Evidence into Education: Evaluating the Routes to Policy and Practice. Edited by Professor Stephen Gorard.

Using and Understanding Research Evidence Workshop

Free one day workshop to support school leaders and teachers in using research evidence.

Durham University Evidence Centre for Education (DECE) will be hosting a free one-day workshop on Thursday 23rd April at the Marriott Hotel, Durham to support school leaders and teachers in using research evidence. It will cover topics on:

• how to read research evidence

• judging the quality of research

• identify promising approaches or practices for classroom teaching

• how to conduct your own evaluation of education programmes or practices

Booking is available via our special Eventbrite booking page. The workshop will run from 10.00am to 2.30pm with lunch provided, and will be delivered by experienced academics in this field including Prof Stephen Gorard, Dr Nadia Siddiqui and Dr Beng Huat See.

Tickets for this event are free. If you would like further information about this event or DECE, please contact Lindsey Wardle via email on

DECE is a research group at Durham University which generates, assesses, synthesises and promotes the use of robust evidence in education policy and practice. Our team is made up of renowned academics from education and other disciplines. We aim to work with teachers, school leaders and policy makers to help support research use in schools.

We hope this event will be of great use to school leaders and teachers, and look forward to seeing you on 23rd April.

Seminar with Dr Emil Bertilsson

On Wednesday 27th Novermber, Dr Emil Bertilsson from Uppsala University in Sweden to delivered a seminar at the School of Education.

Title: The distribution and mobility of teachers in Sweden's marketised school system

Since the introduction of several market reforms in the early 1990s the Swedish educational system has moved from a comprehensive system, resting on the pillars of non-segregation, social levelling, public funding and equal delivery of education, towards a system characterised by deregulation, differentiation and increasing social and ethnic segregation. The introduction of an almost unrestricted freedom of choice of school for students (and their parents), operating through a voucher system, and greater opportunities for private actors to open up independent schools, has resulted in growing competition between schools on local school markets.

Teachers, and the professional resources they carry, are important players in this competition. However, very little research has been devoted to analysing the consequences of these processes for teachers’ careers and work situation. This presentation will discuss preliminary results from an ongoing study that makes use of Swedish register data (covering all teachers and students in lower secondary schools during the years 1995-2016) to analyse changes in teacher distribution and teacher mobility. Questions being addressed are: Has the increasing social segregation pattern of students also resulted in an uneven distribution of teacher resources (regarding for instance teachers work-experience and qualifications)? Are there signs of increasing mobility among teachers, and if so, how can this mobility be explained?

DECE event for ESRC Festival of Social Science

We are hosting a free event for this year's ESRC Festival of Social Science on Saturday 2nd November at Radisson Blu, Durham. This year our theme is "Do Teachers Matter? Why Do We Care?". Speakers include some of the DECE team, Tom Martell from Education Endowment Foundation and Feysia Demie from Lambeth Local Authority. Find out more information on our event page, and contact with dietary requirements to book.

New Briefing: National Literacy Trust's Literacy for Life programme

A new research briefing from Dr Beng Huat See, Prof Stephen Gorard, Dr Rebecca Morris and Dr Nadia Siddiqui is now available on our Research Briefings page. This paper offers an evaluation of the National Literacy Trust's Literacy for Life programme.

Latest issue of Translational Research Insights

The latest issue of our journal, Translational Research Insights is now available to download free from our TRI Journal page. This issue features a main article from Stuart Kime of Evidence Based Education entitled, 'Research evidence and professional experience'.

To join the mailing list, contribute to a future issue, or for more information about DECE contact

DECE participation in Evidence Week

Members of the DECE team participated in this year's Evidence Week in June. Evidence Week is organised by charity Sense About Science in collaboration with the House of Commons Library, POST, and the Commons Science and Technology Select Committee, and aims to promote the use of evidence in policy making. We attended the opening event in Parliament, which was hosted by Sir Norman Lamb MP, and had an evidence pod which Parliamentarians visited to receive 3 minute briefings on evidence of the impact of the Pupil Premium. To celebrate Evidence Week, we also released our new Pupil Premium, higher education and teacher supply briefings:

Pupil Premium briefing

Higher education briefing

Teacher supply briefing

More information about our participation in Evidence Week, and access to the full papers on which our briefings are based, can be accessed at our dedicated Evidence Week page.

New issue of Translational Research Insights

The third issue of our Translational Research Insights journal is now available. This issue features an article by Professor Steve Higgins entitled, 'Research evidence and professional experience'.

All TRI issues are available to read from our TRI Journal page.

You can contribute too. Further information is available on the TRI page. All articles and news items can be submitted to and

Join the mailing list by contacting

Professor Vikki Boliver speaks at Office for Students event

Professor Vikki Boliver spoke at the Office for Students insight event on fairer access to university on 1st May. The event coincided with the release of an Office for Students report on contextualised admissions. The report cited work by DECE members Vikki Boliver, Stephen Gorard, Nadia Siddiqui and Beng Huat See, including the DECE Research Briefing, 'Using contextualised admissions to widen access to higher education: a guide to the evidence base'.

You can watch Vikki's presentation on this event YouTube video - Vikki's section starts at 36:32.

More information on the OfS event and report can be found here.

Using contextualised admissions to widen access to higher education: a guide to the evidence base

Vikki Boliver, Stephen Gorard and Nadia Siddiqui have published a guide to using contextualised admissions to widen access to higher education. The briefing offers evidence-based recommendations to assist higher education providers in developing more effective contextualised admissions policies as a means of promoting wider and fairer access. You can read the briefing in full here and via our Research Briefings page.

Higher education providers are welcome to contact the authors of this briefing for further advice on developing their contextualised admissions policies.


Translational Research Insights Issue 2 available now

The second issue of our journal, Translational Research Insights, is now available to read here and on our TRI Journal page. This issue features an article from Professor Chris Brown, Dr. Joel Malin, and Ms. Jane Flood titled, 'Exploring the five key roles school leaders need to adopt if research-informed teaching practice is to become a reality'.

If you would like to contribute to TRI, we would love to hear from you. You can discuss article ideas with editor Dr. Nadia Siddiqui at

For hard copies of Issue 1 or Issue 2, to be added to our mailing list, or for any other queries about our work, please contact

Professor Tony Chapman leads Young People's Aspirations seminar

On March 29th, Professor Tony Chapman led a seminar at Bishop Auckland Town Hall to launch a report, 'Tackling barriers to young people's aspirations and ambitions in County Durham. The report found that while young people have aspirations to succeed, the support they have to achieve these aspirations falls unevenly. The report was commissioned by Durham County Council via the Institute for Local Governance, and compiled by Professor Tony Chapman and his team at Durham University.

Full Report: Understanding barriers to young people's aspirations and ambition in County Durham

More information about the event and links to the seminar presentation can also be found here.

Lecture Recap: Fair access to Scottish universities

In March, Professor Vikki Boliver presented the Second Annual Memorial Lecture in honour of Professor David Raffe at the University of Edinburgh. If you missed it, you can watch her lecture, "Promoting fairer access to Scottish universities: How can this be achieved?" here.

Professor Stephen Gorard attends Social Mobility Commission Roundtable in Newcastle

On Tuesday 26th February, Stephen Gorard attended a roundtable discussion at Newcastle University as part of the Social Mobility Commission's two day visit to the region. Those attending the event were from a range of organisations across North East England. Attendees discussed current developments on social mobility and school performance in the region, as well as a long-term strategy to tackle social mobility.

New book by DECE members available now: 'How can we get educators to use research evidence?'

DECE members Stephen Gorard, Naomi Griffin, Beng Huat See and Nadia Siddiqui have written a new guide on how to improve education by the increased use of good research evidence. It is called 'How can we get educators to use research evidence? A review of the best ways to get evidence into use from many areas of public policy' and is the largest evidence-base of its kind.

It is available now for £12 from the following link:

Full reference: Gorard, S., Griffin, N., See, BH and Siddiqui, N. (2019) How can we get educators to use research evidence?, Raleigh NC: Lulu Press, ISBN 9780244159160, 186 pages

New Open Access 'Translational Research Insights' Journal - Issue 1 (Jan 2019) available now!

Translational Research Insights (TRI) is a new free brief open access on-line and print journal, published four times per year, accepting articles of 2,000 words, written for a general audience interested and involved in educational improvement.

TRI publishes short articles on the topic of improving the use of good research. The Editors welcome articles from academics, policy-makers, practitioners, organisations and members of the general public. Articles must have a focus on the evidence of how best to get high quality education research findings into more widespread use in real-life. This includes how to evaluate ways of getting evidence into use, how to judge high quality evidence, and examples of high quality evidence that should be in more widespread use for policy/practice.

All TRI issues will be available on our 'TRI Journal' page, which you can visit by clicking the link in the left hand navigation pane of this page.

If you would like a hard copy of an issue, please send an email request to:

Professor Vikki Boliver to give a public lecture in honour of the late Professor David Raffe

Professor Vikki Boliver will give a public lecture in honour of the late Professor David Raffe, Professor of Sociology of Education and Director of the Centre for Educational Sociology at the University of Edinburgh on 25th March 2019. Professor Boliver’s lecture will draw on her recent research in Scotland to consider how we can promote fairer access to university study for disadvantaged applicants. Attendance is free, but must be booked via Eventbrite using this link:

New paper by Dr Beng Huat See and Prof. Stephen Gorard interrogating the evidence behind teacher shortages

This new paper by Dr Beng Huat See and Prof. Stephen Gorard explores the widespread concern about the shortage of secondary school teachers in England. Recruitment to initial teacher training regularly fails to meet its intake targets. The secondary school pupil population is increasing. Teacher vacancies have risen, and more teachers are reportedly leaving the profession prematurely. Despite considerable investment in a wide range of initiatives, costing millions of pounds, the government has acknowledged that it has been unable improve the situation substantially.

This paper presents time-series analyses of official data and documentary analyses of government publications. These suggest that teacher shortages are partly created by government policies themselves - including flaws in the selection system, and school funding system, the official extension of the education and training leaving age, and increases in the number of small schools. It is difficult when planning for teacher supply to anticipate the impact of such varied policy changes years ahead. Consequently, estimations of the numbers needed to be trained are hardly ever accurate.

This paper suggests a reconsideration of the current selection processes for initial teacher training, independent review of the Teacher Supply Model to, and a long-term approach to teacher supply planning, considering other policy changes in a more coordinated way.

Full reference: See, BH and Gorard, S. (2019) Why don’t we have enough teachers?: A reconsideration of the available evidence, Research Papers in Education,

BERA Blog post by Stephen Gorard citing our BERA 2018 Public Engagement and Impact Award!

The work of DECE members won second place in the 2018 BERA Public Engagement and Impact Award as a result of our ongoing impact activities and engagement events. As a result of this award Professor Stephen Gorard was invited to write a post on the BERA Blog (Jan 11th 2019) on the work that was given the award and its impact.

In the blog posty Gorard explains: 'A common theme for this work is the assessment of poverty/disadvantage as a potential determinant of lower attainment and participation in education, and how best to intervene to improve outcomes for the poorest children supported through grant funding from Economic and Social Research Council, the Education Endowment Foundation, the Nuffield Foundation and the Department for Education. The research has led to the creation of more successful ways of assessing disadvantage using official data, based on the ‘trajectory’ of individual indicators, and taking missing data seriously.'

See: to read more about the 2018 BERA Public Engagement and Impact Awards and to read the full blog post.

Keynote by DECE Member, Professor Vikki Boliver, for the annual conference of the Society for Research into Higher Education available in full

Vikki Boliver was a keynote speaker at the annual conference of the Society for Research into Higher Education (SRHE) on 6th December 2018. Her talk entitled "The prestige claims of UK universities: rhetoric and reality" is available to watch here and the presentation slides can be downloaded from here

Question Time Session from the ESRC | DECE 'Let's Make Education Fairer' event

Question Time Session from the ESRC | DECE 'Let's Make Education Fairer' event

Question Time Session from the ESRC | DECE 'Let's Make Education Fairer' event

Views: 231

Please enjoy our 'Question Time' session, in full from the 'Let's Make Education Fairer' event at Durham Marriott (10th November 2018), with panelists Professor Stephen Gorard, Professor Vikki Boliver, Dr Beng Huat See, Dr Nadia Siddiqui, Dr Rebecca Morris, Professor Steve Higgins and Dave Cookson. This was a great session with questions from policy makers, educational professionals, teachers (including newly qualified, trainee, and head teachers), local residents, students and academics. We would like to thank all who attended and contributed to such an interesting and vibrant event and hope that these discussions will continue!

DECE ESRC Public Engagement Event 'Let's make Education Fairer', 10.11.18 - Highlights

DECE ESRC Public Engagement Event 'Let's make Education Fairer' Highlights, 10.11.18.

DECE ESRC Public Engagement Event 'Let's make Education Fairer' Highlights, 10.11.18.

Views: 247

Please enjoy our highlights video from the #makeeducationfairer #esrcfestival event on Nov 10th. An incredible event with lots of interesting and inspiring conversations that we hope will continue.

Special Issue of Review of Education Volume 6, Issue 3 on the use of Multiple Methods in Education Research

A new special issue of Review of Education focusses on 'Multiple Methods in Education Research', and showcases a collection of studies that use multiple research methods in interesting and creative ways to explore a range of educational issues. As the authors explain in their editorial, the collection intends to serve as a catalyst for greater debate about the use of multiple methods to improve the quality of future education research.

New Book from Professor Stephen Gorard: 'Education policy: Evidence of equity and effectiveness'

Professor Stephen Gorard has written a new book on education policy addressing what has been done to achieve fairer and more efficient education systems, and what more can be done in the future. From the book abstract: 'Stephen Gorard provides a comprehensive examination of crucial policy areas for education, such as differential outcomes, the poverty gradient, and the allocation of resources to education, to identify likely causes of educational disadvantage among students and lifelong learners. This analysis is supported by 20 years of extensive research, based in the home countries of the UK and on work in all EU28 countries, USA, Pakistan and Japan. This approachable, rich text brings invaluable insights into the underlying problems within education policy, and proposes practical solutions for a brighter future.' Select the link above for more information and to order the book.

Professor Gorard's book entitled 'Equity in Education: an international comparison of pupil perspectives', originally published by Palgrave Press, has also been translated into Chinese by East China Normal University.

New Book from Professor Steve Higgins: 'Improving Learning: Meta-analysis of Intervention Research in Education'

Professor Steve Higgins has written a new book on meta-analysis of intervention research in education, published by Cambridge University Press. From the book abstract: 'Improving Learning centres on the findings from different areas of education-focused research that support evidence-informed teaching and contextualises these results to optimise decision-making in schools. It also describes the origins and principles of meta-analysis in education and how this identifies the successes in improving learning in classrooms. Moreover, it explains the thinking behind the 'Teaching and Learning Toolkit' and similar approaches, which seek a big-picture overview of research findings. The advantages and disadvantages of this approach are explored with practical examples. Additionally, it identifies the issues in using research evidence in education and the steps that can be taken to improve this. It is not a manual on how to conduct a meta-analysis; instead the focus is on developing understanding of the approach in order to present its strengths and weaknesses. This understanding can advance critical engagement and effective use to improve educational outcomes for children and young people.' Select the link above for more information and to order the book.

DECE ESRC Public Engagement Event 'Let's make Education Fairer', Durham Marriott hotel 10.11.18, 11am-2pm

The North East of England is an area suffering from relatively high and chronic deprivation, where secondary schools are deemed by many to be failing their pupils. Not many young people go on to attend university, and specialist teachers are in high demand.

Come along to this event and learn about the findings of three new studies that suggest ways to improve the outcomes for disadvantaged students at school, and increase the supply of high-quality teachers to areas of high demand. After academics have presented their research there will be a free buffet lunch, where you will have the chance to ask questions and speak to presenters.

Following this there will be a ‘Question Time’-style segment, where you will have the chance to talk to experts and commentators, ask questions, and suggest your own plans of action. The ‘Question Time’ panel will include local journalists and policymakers, as well as Dave Cookson, the Pupil Premium Champion for Northumberland, and Professor Steve Higgins, developer of the Teaching and Learning Toolkit.

Pre-registration is preferred. Intending participants are also invited to submit questions/comments to be discussed by the panel, concerning the poverty gradient in school attainment, widening participation to universities, or attracting/retaining teachers in areas of disadvantage.

Event information:

  • Venue: Durham Marriott Hotel, Old Elvet, Durham, DH1 3JN
  • Contact: Naomi Griffin (email: or telephone: 0191 334 8323)
  • To attend, email your questions/comments for the panel to discuss to Naomi Griffin by 9 November
  • Lunch and refreshments provided
  • Twitter: #makeeducationfairer

Randomised Controlled Trials in the Social Sciences - Thirteenth Annual Conference 5, 6 and 7 September

The thirteenth annual RCTs in the Social Sciences conference will be held on 5, 6 and 7 September, at King's Manor, University of York, in pertnership with Durham University and National Foundation for Educational Research. The conference will be an opportunity for delegates to share expertise, interests, and concerns about conducting trials in all fields of social sciences.Visit to download the full event brochure.

PhD research recieves lots of media attention for study on Social mobility and Grammar Schools

A research study carried Binwei Lu, a post-graduate candidate in the School fo Education Durham University (supervised by Professor Stephen Gorard), has recieved a lot of media attention this week. The study used the National Pupil Database to explore how grammar school opportunities vary among pupil groups, and how grammar school opportunities correlate with the Local Authorities (LAs), pupil backgrounds and attainment. The results show that grammar school admission is relatively fair, based on its selection criterion, but there is no evidence that grammar schools can promote social mobility by providing more opportunities for disadvantaged pupils, which is the major claim supporting their expansion.

Binwei Lu said: “There is also no evidence that grammar schools can help the poor, as their likelihood of attending such schools is limited.”

Lu's article entitled 'Selection on attainment? Local authorities, pupil backgrounds, attainment and grammar school opportunities' in Educational Review is available here:

Below are links to some of the articles published about the study:

DECE Summer Newsletter now available

Download from the resources list at the right hand side of this page or from the Newsletter tab in the options list on the left hand side of this page.

New Job Opportunity

The School of Education seeks to appoint a Research Assistant to work on an ESRC-funded project investigating the complex determinants of teacher shortages in England. It will involve a longitudinal analysis of all available data on teacher recruitment and retention, a large-scale survey and interviews of undergraduates, and a systematic review of existing international evidence. Select the following link for more information and to apply:

New Resources available from DECE

See the 'Resources' section of this site (in the left hand column of this page) to find two newly added papers from DECE members Professor Stephen Gorard and Dr Nadia Siddiqui.

One paper, 'Modus Tollens', demonstrates how significance testing with incompletely randomised cases cannot possibly work. The second paper, 'Kinds of poverty in schools' explores different kinds of disadvantages and their influence on school attainment.

Recent study shows links between young children’s socio-emotional skills, behaviour, mathematics and literacy in Serbia (08.06.18)

Recently published research by DECE members Christine Merrell and Peter Tymms, along with Gabrijela Aleksić, Dieter Ferring and Jasmina Klemenović provided an insight into young children’s development and learning in Serbia. It investigated the links between their personal, social and emotional development (PSED), behaviour and cognitive development in literacy and mathematics during pre-school and Grade 1. The PIPS On-entry Baseline Assessment was adapted for use in the research and a sample of 159 children were assessed at three time-points over a period of 14 months through their time in pre-school and Grade 1. The children were aged between 5 ½ and 6 ½ over this period. More than 3 million children around the world have been assessed with PIPS and this study is another example of how it is used for research as well as to provide teachers with information about the development and progress of their pupils.

The study found that teachers in Serbia generally gave higher ratings for girls’ PSED than boys. This echoes the findings of research from other countries, including England and Scotland. The Serbian children’s PSED were closely related to their mathematics and literacy skills. However, there was a weaker relationship between inattentive behaviour and cognitive development than has been found in other countries.

Although pre-school education in Serbia places emphasis on developing children’s socio-emotional skills, there is the issue of attendance at pre-school being significantly lower than other European countries. This is the first study of its kind in Serbia and the research team call for further systematic monitoring of children’s development alongside the evaluation of interventions aimed at enhancing children’s personal, social and emotional development.

£477,424 ESRC bid granted to DECE members for a project on Understanding Teacher Shortages

DECE members Dr Beng Huat See (PI), Dr Rebecca Morris (CI) and Prof Stephen Gorard (CI) were recently successful in an ESRC grant bid for £477,424 (ES/R007349/1) for their project entitled: Understanding the complex determinants of teacher shortages: An integrated approach. The team will examine the long-term determinants of teacher demand and supply, and to identify the most promising initiatives to improve recruitment and retention. For more on this, see our upcoming Summer Newsletter.

The Kodaly approach to music is a fun and interactive way to introduce music to young children. There is currently some evidence suggesting that this approach to music training can have beneficial effects on children. This paper presents the results of a pilot study investigating the impact of the Kodály approach to music on the developmental outcomes of 56 pre-school children in one school in the North East of England.

Research Highlights:

• RCT of the Kodály approach to music shows positive effects on children’s learning.
• Effects are particularly strong on social, emotional and behavioural outcomes.
• Impact on literacy is weak.
• At least two terms of delivery needed for full benefits to be realised.
• Regular classroom teachers can be trained to deliver the sessions.

Full reference: See, B.H. and Ibbotson, L. (2018) A feasibility study of the impact of the Kodály-inspired music programme on the developmental outcomes of four to five year olds in England, International Journal of Educational Research, Vol 89, pp. 10-21. DOI: 10.1016/j.ijer.2018.03.002

A flurry of press coverage as a result of recent publication by DECE members, Stephen Gorard and Nadia Siddiqui (27.3.18)

Professor Stephen Gorard has appeard on several television and radio segments (including BBC News and Sky News) and has been quoted in many national and local media outlets as a result of a recent research project and related journal article available here: The research highlights that Grammar schools are no better or worse than non-selective state schools in terms of attainment, but can be damaging to social mobility. Gorard and Siddiqui (2018) say a policy of increasing selection within the schools system is dangerous for equality in society. Instead, they are calling on the Government to phase out grammar schools as their analysis shows that grouping more able and privileged children in grammar schools can harm the majority of others who don’t attend those schools.

Examples of national media coverage available online include: (Tuesday 27 March 2018 at 10.35am) (Tuesday 27 March 2018 at 12:59pm) (Tuesday 27 March 2018 at 2:17am) (Tuesday 27 March 2018 at 13:10) (Tuesday 27th March 2018 at 00:02)

More information is available via the Durham University News webpage:

How trajectories of disadvantage help explain school attainment

This paper illustrates the links between different ways of assessing disadvantage at school and subsequent qualification outcomes at age 16 in England. Our previous work has compared variables that represent current or recent snapshots of disadvantage (such as eligibility for FSM) with longer term summary variables and found the latter to improve measures of both social segregation between schools and explanations of raw-score differences in attainment. This new work takes an even more detailed longitudinal approach, modelling the course of one age cohort of 550,000 pupils from the National Pupil Database through their entire schooling to the age of 16 in 29 distinct analytical steps, using “effect” sizes, correlations, and a regression model. The steps represent stages such as what is known about each pupil when they were born, who they attended school with at age 10, and where they lived at age 14. The model also includes variables representing where data is missing for any pupil in any year. Using capped Key Stage 4 points as an outcome measure, these stages can predict the outcome with R=0.90. This is considerably higher than for models using either snapshots or summaries of disadvantage. Key predictors are poverty and special educational needs at age 5, and throughout schooling, coupled with prior attainment at ages 6, 10, and 13. With predictors fed into the model in life order, there is little evidence of differential progress for different language and ethnic minority groups, and no evidence of regional differences or a type of school effect. The paper concludes with the implications of these results for assessing disadvantage when considering school contexts, and for policy-makers. Given the small but apparently consistent negative school composition ‘effects’ in every year, one clear implication is that school intakes should be as mixed as possible both socially and academically.

New publication from DECE member, Professor Peter Tymms, on whether there is an optimum age to start school (14.03.17)

The determination of readiness to enter primary school is a complex process. Identifying factors that contribute to a child's positive transition into school can help parents, teachers and the wider support network make a sound decision of whether or not a child is ready to commence primary school. This paper investigates the relationship between age, cognitive development and school readiness and concludes that at the national level there is no optimum age for starting school. The decision of when to start school is individual to each child.

Full Reference: Boereboom, J. & Tymms, P. (2018). Is there and optimum age for starting school in New Zealand?. NZ International Research in Early Childhood Education Journal, 21(2), 32-44.

A virtual free-to access journal of 20 years of research by Stephen Gorard

Professor Stephen Gorard has collected together open-access links to some of the hundreds of peer-reviewed journal articles and research reports he has written so far with a range of valued colleagues, in recognition of the increasing number of peer-reviewed papers becoming freely and openly available to all, either because of new journal designs, or because research funders pay for ‘gold’ open access, or university repositories, and of the benefits of such availability of information for potential readers and consumers of research, such as policy-advisers, think tanks, unions and practitioners. The document can be found under 'Resources' on the right hand column of this page and under 'Resources' at the bottom of out our 'Publications' page.

Expertise called for from DECE members on value-added measures research

Professor Stephen Gorard's expertise have been called upon for several media outlets in the past month (Jan-Feb 2018), particularly in relation to the research on school progress measures he and his collegues, Dr Beng Huat See and Dr Nadia Siddiqui, have been undertaking. See the following six links for more information:

Progress 8 is biased towards grammar schools, Schools Week, 26/1/18,

Progress 8 disguises grammar school pupils’ true attainment, Schools Week, 28/1/18,

The schools where the poorest pupils make most progress, Schools Week, 3/2/18,

Canarias, la segunda comunidad con mayor segregación socioeconómica en Secundaria, Canarias Ahora, 8/2/18, (Translation of article title in English: Canarias, the second autonomous Spanish community with the highest socioeconomic segregation in Secondary Education, Canary Islands - Translation of article available at

The Northern Powerhouse, interview with Professor Stephen Gorard on BBC Radio 4 6:00 News, 1/2/18

Tom Perry has produced a blog post about the results of the team's research entitled 'Progress 8, Ability bias and the ‘phantom’ grammar school effect', 26/01/18,

Diversifying the elite: the responsibility of universities?

DECE's Professor Vikki Boliver (Director of Research – Professor and Deputy Head of School, School of Applied Social Sciences, Durham University) will be on a panel for the Reform UK event 'Diversifying the elite: the responsibility of universities?' to discuss contextualised admissions as a means of widening participation in Higher Education (26 January 2018,13.00 - 14.30pm)

DECE December Newsletter now available

Download from the resources list at the right hand side of this page or from the Newsletter tab in the options list on the left hand side of this page.

Media attention for research project showing a link between an effective Reception year and GCSE scores

A research project and subsequent paper (Tymms, P. and Merrell, C. and Bailey, K. (2017) 'The long-term impact of effective teaching.', School effectiveness and school improvement)has found that those classes defined as effective and students from those classes were tracked on 3 further occasions up to the age of 16 and compared with others. Being in an effective class in the 1st year of school, when the children were aged 4 to 5 years, was significantly related to later attainment at age 16 (Effect Size = 0.2).

New Publication for Siddiqui, Gorard and See on entitled 'Can programmes like Philosophy for Children help schools to look beyond academic attainment?'

Schools are places where children can learn behaviour, skills and attitudes that have lifelong relevance. In England, despite the continuing emphasis on attainment, there are clear moves to consider also the wider and non-cognitive outcomes of schooling – such as pupils’ development of trust, critical thinking and civic-mindedness. However, there is little existing evidence on how such non-cognitive outcomes can be improved through school-based interventions. This paper presents findings from a quasi-experimental design using 2722 pupils in 42 primary schools. A treatment group of schools participated in Philosophy for Children (P4C) for 18 months, whereas the other group of schools was a clean control. The outcomes compared were pupil self-reports with an instrument designed to assess “social and communication skills”, “teamwork and resilience” and “empathy” and a number of other such constructs. Post-intervention comparisons show that pupils who received the P4C intervention were ahead of their counterparts in the comparison schools, and this was generally more so for those pupils living in relative poverty (FSM-eligible). Teachers reported that positive effects could be observed in pupils’ confidence in questioning and reasoning, and pupils generally reported that they enjoyed the intervention. However, the differences are small, and it is not clear that the two groups were comparable at the outset. Nevertheless, there is promise that targeted school-based intervention such as P4C can improve pupils’ non-cognitive outcomes, and there are lessons for how to conduct such studies and how to assess the wider outcomes of schooling.

New publication for Dr Beng Huat See on evaluating the evidence in evidence-based policy and practice

With the push for evidence-informed policy and practice, schools and policy makers are now increasingly encouraged and supported to use and enagage with research evidence. This means that consumers of research will now need to be discerning in judging the quality of research evidence that will inform their decisions. This paper evaluates the quality of evidence behind some well-known education programmes using examples from previous reviews of over 5,000 studies on a range of topics. It shows that much of the evidence is weak, and fundamental flaws in research are not uncommon. This is a serious problem if teaching practices and important policy decisions are made based on such flawed evidence. Lives may be damaged and opportunities missed. The aim of this paper is to show how widespread this problem is and to suggest ways by which the quality of education research may be improved. For example, funders of research and research bodies need to insist on quality research and fund only those that meet the minimum quality criteria. Journal editors and reviewers need to be cognizant of fundamental flaws in research and reject such submissions. One way to do this is to encourage submission of the research design and research protocol prior to acceptance, so acceptance or rejection is based on the design and not on the outcomes. This helps prevent publication bias and biased reporting. Individual researchers can improve quality by making it their moral responsibility to be truthful and transparent.

The first year in at school in Western Cape: Growth, Development and Progress

This Nuffield Foundation project focused on developing an assessment tool for children starting primary school in South Africa. This tools were designed to monitor pupils’ progress through primary school, as well as the performance of teachers, schools and school systems. The findings have research and policy implications for education in South Africa.

New book on trials in education

The Trials of Evidence-based Education explores the promise, limitations and achievements of evidence-based policy and practice, as the attention of funders moves from a sole focus on attainment outcomes to political concern about character-building and wider educational impacts.

Admissions in context

This Sutton Trust project focused on university access gap between disadvantaged students and their more advantaged peers has narrowed somewhat in recent years, the gap at the most selective universities remains stubbornly wide. The findinsg suggest that the contextualised admissions is one way through which universities may be able to make greater progress towards narrowing these gaps.

Mapping and evaluating the use of contextual data in undergraduate admissions in Scotland

As part of Scottish Funding Coucil's Impact for Access project, this major study was comissioned on investigating the admission of disadvantaged learners onto degree courses at Scottish universities. The findings have research and policy implications.