We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Research & business

View Research Directory

Mind the Gap: Evaluation

A research project of the School of Education.


Mind the Gap is a family learning project aiming to facilitate intergenerational engagement with metacognition through the vehicle of a stop-motion animation project. The animation project takes place in school and targets children and their dads/ male carers. It is accompanied by staff development to promote a learning to learn (L2L) approach across curriculum and home/school boundaries. Our team of researchers is engaged in two related projects. This webpage is dedicated to the second, funded by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF). This is a systematic evaluation using a randomised control trial design to explore the impact of the intervention on participant children, teachers and schools, focusing particularly on children’s attainment in maths and English. The first was sponsored by Esmee Fairbairn and ensured the standardisation of the intervention elements, the learning environment created and the impacting factors that lead to effective family learning. Further details of this project can be found here


The project is funded by the following grant.

  • RF230039: Mind the Gap: Delivering the Pupil Premium, ESMEE FAIRBAIRN FOUNDATION, £35600.00, 2012-01-01 - 2013-06-30


Mind the Gap seeks to create better learners by harnessing the power of effective ‘learning to learn’ thinking strategies. The learning to learn approach is based on the idea that effective learning is based on skills, attitudes and dispositions to learning, and that these can themselves be learned.


There is evidence to suggest that learning to learn approaches may be effective at raising pupils’ academic attainment. A meta-analysis of related approaches found a large effect on curriculum outcomes. Furthermore, it is not just teachers who can help children to improve their learning skills. Parental engagement is potentially important; giving parents the skills to help their children to become confident, motivated learners could make a big difference to their performance at school. While there has been a large amount of research around this, few robust evaluations of the effectiveness of programmes designed to increase parental engagement have been undertaken. A small scale pilot project in Harrow showed encouraging results. Among the 40 participating primary school pupils, the percentage achieving the Government’s expected level of progress in English rose from 15% in to 73%.


The evaluation is intended to provide robust evidence on the effectiveness of learning to learn. A cluster randomisation approach was adopted since individual-level randomisation was felt to be both impractical, likely to cause contamination and to raise ethical concerns. Outcomes are at the level of individual pupils.


From the School of Education

From other departments