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School of Applied Social Sciences

SASS Staff

Publication details

Gorard, S., Siddiqui, N. & See, B. H. (2015). How effective is a summer school for catch-up attainment in English and maths? International Journal of Educational Research 73: 1-11.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

The current study is an efficacy trial of a summer school programme, targeted at literacy and numeracy catch-up for pupils in years 5 and 6. During the summer holidays the intervention provided extra schooling in English and maths along with a wide variety of extra-curricular activities. The programme developers recruited 435 pupils who volunteered to participate in the programme and agreed to be randomised into treatment and control group. The randomisation resulted in 239 pupils participating in the treatment group and 196 pupils in the control group. The pupils were assessed on Progress in English (PiE) and Progress in maths (PiM) standardised tests after four weeks of the programme. The overall result for English was an ‘effect’ size of +0.17, with FSM-eligible pupils making even more progress. The effect size in maths was 0, with FSM-eligible pupils making even less progress. As a programme to assist disadvantaged children with their preparation for transition to secondary school, the intervention showed some promise, and most pupils clearly enjoyed their time at the summer school. Parents appreciated the provision of free academic help and enrichment activities over the long summer holiday. But despite considerable efforts from the developers, they recruited fewer than half the intended target of pupils, and attendance once the programme had started reduced the number further. This, added to the cost, suggests that summer schools are not the most effective way to improve attainment for struggling pupils.