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Durham University

School of Education

Staff Profile

Prof Christine Merrell, PhD, MEd, PGCE, BSc

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

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. 

Indicators of Esteem

  • 2016: Member:

    Learning and Psychology Centre Advisory Group (March 2016 – present)

  • 2016: Member: NICE Expert Advisors Panel for the Centre for Clinical Practice (July 2016 - present)
  • 2015: Member: ESRC Peer Review College (July 2015 – present)
  • 2013: Fellow of the Wolfson Institue: Durham University (March 2011 - present)
  • 2013: Member of Ofqual Early Years Advisory Group: (Sept 2009 - present)
  • 2012: Presentation at the Department of Children and Adolescent Psychiatry: Glasgow University, January 2012
  • 2011: Presentation at National Union of Teachers' National Education Conference: July 2011
  • 2011: Presentation at UKANN UK ADHD Network: Study days in Warwick, September 2011
  • 2011: Presentation of evidence to the Key Stage 2 Testing and Accountability Review: Chaired by Lord Bew, January 2011
  • 2010: Presentation at the Office of National Statistics: At their 'Focus on Children and Young People' Seminar, 25th March 2010
  • NICE Development group: A member of the NICE Development Group for ADHD


Research Interests

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

Research Groups

Research Projects

Selected Publications

Journal Article

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.

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.


Translated Book

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