Trial to find out if 'enrichment activities' boost attainment

A new trial will find out if taking part in activities like sports clubs and community volunteering can boost attainment and attributes like teamwork and social responsibility.

The Children’s University trial, funded by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), is for 9-10 year olds and will look at if learning activities and experiences outside of the classroom can raise aspirations and attainment of pupils.

Each pupil will get a ‘Passport to Learning’, used to record each activity and hours spent on the activities. Children will make their own choice from a wide range of activities and receive a stamp in their passport on completion. Activities range from walking trails and gymnastics, to trips to wildlife parks, sports sessions and performing arts classes.

The EEF previously funded a smaller trial of Children’s University, which found positive impacts on Key Stage 2 maths and reading results equivalent to about +2 months’ additional progress. Small improvements were also seen for a range of other outcomes, such as teamwork, social responsibility, and aspirations. This larger trial, which will be independently evaluated by a team from the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), is designed to find out if these positive effects can be replicated across a larger number of schools.

The EEF believes that all children, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds, deserve a well-rounded, culturally rich, education. However, children from disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to participate in enrichment activities like volunteering and arts and cultural events. Evidence from trials like this will help schools to make decisions about how best to target their resources and provide enrichment activities in their school.

The EEF has also launched two new initiatives focused on improving outcomes for children with special educational needs.

The SEND review is a programme delivered by the National Association for Special Educational Needs, that aims to improve provision for pupils with SEND in mainstream schools by helping schools to evaluate the effectiveness of their provision, and then implement a bespoke action plan to target areas of priority and drive improvement. Around 150 mainstream secondary schools will take part in the trial, which will be independently evaluated by a team from Manchester Metropolitan University.

Headsprout Early Reading in Special Schools is a programme delivered by Bangor University, that aims to improve reading skills through a computer programmes that adapts instruction in response to children’s answers. Activities are designed to be engaging, with pupils working through cartoon-based worlds via tasks that resemble computer games. Bangor University have piloted the programme in UK special schools, and over 100 special schools will now be invited to take part in a large-scale trial of the programme for primary-aged children with SEND. The programme will be evaluated by a team from Warwick University.

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