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Durham University

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Staff Profile

Prof Christine Merrell, PhD, MEd, PGCE, BSc

Deputy Head of Faculty (Research) in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Health
Professor in the School of Education

Contact Prof Christine Merrell (email at

Affiliate of the Durham University Evidence Centre for Education


Professor, School of Education and Deputy Head of Faculty (Research) Social Sciences & Health

Assessment development, Management and running of large-scale monitoring systems in pre-schools and primary schools, Research methods and evaluation in education, Achievements of severely inattentive, hyperactive and impulsive young children.


  • Developed assessments for children aged 3 - 14 years including assessments of reading, mathematics, English vocabulary, non-verbal ability and motor development. Including develpoment of a computer-delivered, adaptive diagnostic assessment of reading for children aged 5 - 11 years. 
  • Managed large-scale assessment systems which monitor children's progress in pre-school and primary school. This involves the development and delivery of assessments, marking, analysis and provision of pupil-level feedback.
  • Studied the achievements of severely inattentive, hyperactive and impulsive young children, including involvement in a large-scale RCT to evaluate the impact of interventions aimed at helping such children succeed in the classroom.
  • Evaluated a range of educational interventions.
  • Provided in-service training for teachers, education authority personnel and other professionals in relation to assessment, monitoring pupils' progress and evidence-based interventions to help children succeed at school.

Christine has extensive experience in the development of assessments (for example reading, mathematics, vocabulary) for children aged between 3 and 11 years. She has published research about the development of children in the early years and the prediction of their later attainment. Her other research interests include the academic attainment and progress of severely inattentive, hyperactive and impulsive young children and ways to help them succeed in the classroom.

Completed Supervisions (since 2008)

The development of an assessment to identify deficits in facial expression decoding in young children

Can Motor Skills Training Improve Academic Performance? A Structured Motor Skills Intervention for Young Children


Collaborated with Peter Tymms on the iPIPS project, which is an international comparative study of children at the start of school and their progress during the first year of school. The iPIPS project has had significant and extensive impact on pedagogical understanding, policy and practice in the UK, Brazil, South Africa, Russia and Lesotho. Policy influence has been seen in Kazan, Russia. Changes to pedagogic practice have been recorded in Brazil, South Africa, and Lesotho whilst the influence of iPIPS has been noted at the highest level by the OECD. As of 2019, 32,228 students have been assessed using iPIPS across 420 schools in 4 countries.

Research into the attainment and progress of severely inattentive, hyperactive and impulsive children, and interventions to help them succeed in the classroom. Co-I on a large-scale intervention study involving 2040 schools in England, which evaluated different school-based interventions. One of the interventions, an advice booklet to teachers which contained research-based teaching and classroom-management strategies, was found to have a long-term positive impact (up to GCSE) on children's attainment. The results from this study significantly shaped the recommendations in National Clinical Practice Guideline Number 72 commissioned by the National Institute for Health & Clinical Excellence (NICE) and published in 2008. 

Research Groups

School of Education

Research Projects

School of Education

  • 5-14 Science and Maths Report
  • Cross Age Peer Tutoring
  • EasyPeasy Evaluation
  • Establishing a Baseline of Children Starting School and Monitoring Progress in the First Year in Primary Schools of the Western Cape, South Africa
  • Improving Basic Education in Grade 1 in Lesotho: Pilot
  • IPIPS Brazil
  • Prospective Report on the Future of Assessment in Primary and Secondary Education
  • Scaling up Grade 1 assessment & monitoring in Lesotho
  • Teach First Evaluation

Research Interests

  • Assessment and monitoring in primary schools
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
  • Early Years Education

Selected Publications

Chapter in book

  • Merrell, C. (2017). Understanding Monitoring in the United Kingdom Context. In Monitoring the Quality of Education in Schools: Examples of Feedback into Systems from Developed and Emerging Economies. Scherman, V., Bosker, R. & Howie, S. J. Rotterdam/Boston/Taipei: Sense Publishers. 93-106.
  • Merrell, C. & Tymms, P. (2016). Assessing Young Children: Problems and Solutions. In Understanding What Works in Oral Reading Assessments: Recommendations from Donors, Implementers and Practitioners. Montreal: UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS). 126-133.
  • Thurston, A., Tymms, P.B., Merrell, C. & Conlin, N. (2014). Improving Reading and Math Achievement across a Whole District. In Classroom Management and Assessment. Slavin, R. California: Corwin.
  • Merrell, C, Little, J & Coe, R (2014). Is the Attainment Gap among Primary Aged Children Decreasing? In In Harnessing what works in eliminating educational disadvantage: A tale of two classrooms. Wood, C & Scott, R Demos.
  • Merrell, C. (2012). Developments in Standardised Assessment: A perspective from the UK. In Contemporary Debates in Childhood Development and Education. Suggate, S. & Reese, E. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. 293-304.
  • Tymms, P. & Merrell, C. (2009). Attainment, Standards and Quality. In Children, their World, their Education: Final report and recommendations of the Cambridge Primary Review. Alexander, R. London: Routledge.
  • Tymms, P. & Merrell, C. (2009). On-entry Baseline Assessment across Cultures. In Early Childhood Education: Society and Culture. Anning, A., Cullen, J. & Fleers, M. London: Sage Publications. 117.128.

Journal Article

  • Bartholo, T.L., Campelo Koslinski, M., da Costa, M., Tymms, P., , Merrell, C. & Mendonça Barcellos, T (2020). The Use of Cognitive Instruments for Research in Early Childhood Education: Constraints and Possibilities in The Brazilian Context. Pro-Posições 31: e20180036.
  • Aleksić, G., Merrell, C., Ferring, D., Tymms, P. & Klemenović, J. (2019). Links between Socio-Emotional Skills, Behaviour, Mathematics and Literacy of Preschool Children in Serbia. European Journal of Psychology of Education 34(2): 417-438.
  • Ivanova, A., Kardanova, E., Merrell, C., Tymms, P. & Hawker, D. (2018). Checking the possibility of equating a mathematics assessment between Russia, Scotland and England for children starting school. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice 25(2): 141-159.
  • Tymms, P., Merrell, C. & Bailey, K. (2018). The long-term impact of effective teaching. School Effectiveness and School Improvement 29(2): 242-261.
  • Merrell, C., Sayal, K., Tymms, P. & Kasim, A. (2017). A longitudinal study of the association between inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity and children's academic attainment at age 11. Learning and Individual Differences 53: 156-161.
  • Demetriou, A., Merrell, C. & Tymms, P. (2017). Mapping and Predicting Literacy and Reasoning Skills from Early to Later Primary School. Learning and Individual Differences 54: 217-225.
  • Luyten, H., Merrell, C. & Tymms, P. (2017). The contribution of schooling to learning gains of pupils in Years 1 to 6. School Effectiveness and School Improvement 28(3): 374-405
  • Sayal, K., Mills, J., White, K., Merrell, C. & Tymms, P. (2015). Predictors of and Barriers to service use for children at risk of ADHD: Longitudinal study. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 24(5): 545-552.
  • Merrell, C., Styles, I., Jones, P., Tymms, P. & Wildy, H. (2013). Cross-country Comparisons of Inattentive, Hyperactive and Impulsive Behaviour in School-Based Samples of Young Children. International Research in Early Childhood Education 4(1): 1-17.
  • Katsipataki, M. & Merrell, C. (2012). Can Motor Skills Training Improve Academic Skills? A Motor Skills Intervention for the Early Years. Online Educational Research Journal
  • Thurston, A., Tymms, P., Merrell, C. & Conlin, N. (2012). Improving attainment across an education authority. Better: Evidence-based Education 4(2): 8-9.
  • Tymms, P., Merrell, C., Henderson, B., Albone, S. & Jones, P. (2012). Learning Difficulties in the Primary School Years: Predictability from On-Entry Baseline Assessment. Online Educational Research Journal June 2012.
  • Merrell, C. & Bailey, K. (2012). Predicting achievement in the Early Years: How important is personal, social and emotional development? On-line Educational Research Journal 3(6).
  • Tymms, P. & Merrell, C. (2011). ADHD and academic attainment: is there an advantage in impulsivity? Learning and Individual Differences 21(6): 753-758.
  • Merrell, C. & Tymms, P. (2011). Changes in Children’s Cognitive Development at the Start of School in England 2001 – 2008. Oxford Review of Education 37(3): 333-345.
  • Tymms, P., Merrell, C., Thurston, A., Andor, J., Topping, K. & Miller, D. (2011). Improving attainment across a whole district: school reform through peer tutoring in a randomized controlled trial. School Effectiveness and School Improvement 22(3): 265-289.
  • Sayal, K., Owen, V., White, K., Merrell, C., Tymms, P. & Taylor, E. (2010). Impact of Early School-Based Screening and Intervention Programs for ADHD on Children's Outcomes and Access to Services. Follow-up of a School-Based Trial at Age 10 Years. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine 164(5): 462-469.
  • Bolden, D., Tymms, P. & Merrell, C. (2009). Can the past inform the future of science in primary schools? Education in Science 232: 10-11.
  • Merrell, C. (2009). The reliability of the statutory end of Key Stage 2 assessments and their use in England. Education Review 22(1): 69-74.
  • Tymms, P.B., Merrell, C. & Coe, R.J. (2008). Educational Policies and randomized Controlled Trials. The Psychology of Education Review 32(2): 3-7 & 26-29.
  • Bolden, D., Tymms, P. & Merrell, C. (2008). New Approaches are needed for Science in Primary Schools. Primary Leadership Today (14): 17-19.
  • Carrington, B., Tymms, P. & Merrell, C. (2008). Role models, school improvement and the 'gender gap' - do men bring out the best in boys and women bring out the best in girls? British Educational Research Journal 34(3): 315-327.
  • Tymms, P., Bolden, D.S. & Merrell, C. (2008). Science in English Primary Schools: Trends in Attainment, Attitudes and Approaches. Perspectives on Education: Primary Science (1): 19-42.
  • Tymms, P., Merrell, C., Heron, T., Jones, P., Albone, S. & Henderson, B. (2008). The Importance of Districts. School Effectiveness and School Improvement: An International Journal of Research, Policy and Practice 19(3): 261-274.
  • Tymms, P. & Merrell, C. (2006). The impact of screening and advice on inattentive, hyperactive and impulsive children. European Journal of Special Needs Education 21(3): 321-337.
  • Tymms, P., Merrell, C. & Henderson, B. (1997). The First Year at School: A Quantitative Investigation of the Attainment and Progress of Pupils. Educational Research and Evaluation 3(2): 101-118.

Conference Paper

  • Tymms, P., Merrell, C., Henderson, B., Albone, S. & Jones, P. (2009), Learning Difficulties in the Primary School Years: Predictability from On-entry Baseline Assessment, XIV European Conference on Developmental Psychology. Vilnius, Vilnius.
  • Tymms, P., Merrell, C. & Jenkins, H. (2008), The advantage of impulsivity: An analysis of the components of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and their impact on attainment, AERA Annual Conference. New York, New York.


  • Tymms, P. & Merrell, C. (2016), What impact does the first year of school have on later success?, International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement. Glasgow.


  • Tymms, P., Howie, S., Merrell, C., Combrick, C. & Copping, L. (2017). The First Year at School in the Western Cape: Growth, Development and Progress. London, Nuffield Foundation.
  • Tymms, P., Merrell, C. & Buckley, H. (2015). Children's development at the start of school in Scotland and the progress made during their first school year: An analysis of PIPS baseline and follow-up assessment data. School of Education, Centre for Evaluation & Monitoring. Edinburgh, UK, The Scottish Government.
  • Tymms, P., Merrell, C., Hawker, D. & Nicholson, F. (2014). Performance Indicators in Primary Schools: A comparison of performance on entry to school and the progress made in the first year in England and four other jurisdictions: Research report. London, Department for Education.
  • Merrell, C., Jones, P., Bolden, D., Jones, K., Defty, N. & Ndaji, F. (2010). For helping young children: A review of pupils' attitudes to Science and Mathematics.
  • Taylor, E., Kendall, T., Asherson, P., Bailey, S., Bretherton, K., Brown, A., Costigan, L., Duncan, A., Harpin, V., Hollis, C., Keen, D., Lewis, A., Mavranezouli, I., Merrell, C., Mulligan, D., Perez, A., Pettinari, C., Ryan, N., Salt, N., Sayal, K., Sheppard, L., Stockton, S., Taylor, C., Thorley, G, Turner, J., Tymms, P., Wolpert, M., Wong, I. & Young, S. (2009). Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: The NICE Guideline on Diagnosis and Management of ADHD in Children, Young People and Adults. Practice Guideline No. 72. London, The British Psychological Society and The Royal College of Psychiatrists.

Translated Book

  • Konkawa, A., Ebine, H. & Sugita, K. (trans.) (2017). Christine Merrell and Peter Tymms, 小学校における困難児への対応 教師への指導指針第2版 (Working with Difficult Children in Primary Schools. A Guide for Teachers - 2nd Edition). Durham: Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM)
  • Rocha Mazzuchelli, D. S., Batista Araujo e Oliveira, J. & Costa, M. (trans.) (2015). Christine Merrell and Peter Tymms, Trabalhando com crianças pequenas desatentas, hiperativas e impulsivas em sala. Um guia para educadores (Working with Difficult Children in Primary Schools. A Guide for Teachers - 2nd Edition). Durham: Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM)
  • Gawrilow, C. & Zürcher, A. (trans.) (2014). Christine Merrell and Peter Tymms, Maßnahmen und Strategien zur Unterrichtsgestaltung – nicht nur für Kinder mit ADHS. Übersetzt, angepasst und ergänzt von Bettine Reich, Caterina Gawrilow und Anke Zürcher (Working with Difficult Children in Primary Schools. A Guide for Teachers - 2nd Edition). Tübingen: Universität Tübingen

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Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Education: Monitoring the attainment and progress of children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). These are severely inattentive, hyperactive and impulsive children. I have monitored their progress in primary school and evaluated strategies to help
  • Psychology: Monitoring the attainment and progress of children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). These are severely inattentive, hyperactive and impulsive children. I have monitored their progress in primary school and evaluated strategies to help
  • Education: Monitoring the development, attainment and progress of children from pre-school up to the end of the primary years