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English Mastery EEF Trial

English Mastery EEF Trial

What is it and how does it work?

English Mastery’s mission is to enable all students to flourish in English. It is built on four pedagogical pillars that drive student progress: 

  • A knowledge-rich cumulative English curriculum
  • Dedicated teaching of grammar
  • Explicit vocabulary instruction
  • Assessing for Mastery

Each pillar is rooted in the latest cognitive and educational research. These four pillars underpin the English Mastery (EM) KS3 curriculum which is comprised of three strands:

  • The first, Literacy Heritage, introduces pupils to canonical texts and modern classics, explicitly teaching pupils knowledge about the subject of English, the world, history, culture and heritage.
  • The second, Mastery Writing, teaches pupils grammatical concepts and rules in a logical and cumulative sequence. Here, the lessons follow an interleaved structure and pupils deliberately practise concepts to the point of mastery.
  • The third, Reading for Pleasure, introduces pupils to shared reading of contemporary texts, and uses this activity as an opportunity to explicitly teach vocabulary.

The programme also trains and provides resources to teachers, including an induction, termly subject mastery twilight webinars, termly visits (which include coaching and a bespoke CPD session), and termly standardised assessment days.

George Pindar School is taking part in a research trial conducted by the EEF to measure the impact of delivering EM to Years 7 and 8 by analysing English outcomes at the end of Year 8, as well as the impact on teacher workload and CPD through regular teacher questionnaires and implementation and process evaluations.

Why are you doing it?

Our main reason for applying to take part in the trial was to improve outcomes in English at KS3, particularly for our most vulnerable students. Previous research undertaken by The Brilliant Club, found that, on average, students in schools that adopted EM made four months’ more progress than similar students in schools that did not adopt the programme.  Moreover, it was particularly beneficial for pupils with lower prior attainment, and marginally more effective for non-Free School Meals (FSM) pupils. As such, we wanted to see whether we could replicate the impact of this in our school.

Secondly, we wanted to take place in the trial because we were concerned about teacher workload and wanted to reduce this in order to create more time for subject-specific CPD. The EM programme includes access to a fully resourced curriculum for KS3, including individual lesson PPTs and resources, summative assessments and online tools to support teacher planning and reduce workload. Moreover, the My Mastery website also gives access to integrated professional development videos and tutorials to enhance teacher subject knowledge and pedagogical expertise. Both of these factors provided potential solutions to the issue of workload and a lack of time for CPD so we were keen to see whether they would benefit our staff.

What has been the impact so far?

Although the delivery of the English Mastery programme and its evaluation has been affected by the Covid-19 school closures, student voice feedback on lessons has been positive; they are really enjoying studying Oliver Twist (in Y7) and Sherlock Holmes (in Y8) and finding out more about the period in which these stories were set. Furthermore, the Mastery Writing lessons have ensured that grammar is taught in an uncomplicated way and that students are provided with plenty of opportunities to master these through interleaving, repetition and low-stakes quizzing.

Teacher voice also indicates that EM is reducing teacher planning workload. Moreover, feedback from the EM School Development Lead who is assigned to George Pindar has been overwhelmingly positive with regards to the implementation of the programme and we are hopeful that students outcomes at the end of Y8 (July 2021) will yield the improvements seen in The Brilliant Club study.

How are the EM principles/approaches relevant to other phases/subjects?

The mastery approach, incorporating reinforcement, repetition and practice of skills, is transferable across the curriculum and other phases so it is worth exploring this in more detail if you are interested in taking a similar approach in your school.

For further information, see:

English Mastery Secondary

The Brilliant Club impact study

EEF English Mastery Research Project

Or, contact:

Karen Swift, EM Lead at George Pindar School. E: k.swift@gps.hlt.academy

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