07 Nov 2018

Recently released evidence: FAST Programme and Tutoring

Recently released evidence: FAST Programme and Tutoring

This week, the evaluation of the RCT research on Families and Schools Together (FAST) undertaken by Save the Children and Middlesex University was published. The evaluation suggests that FAST added little or no value to the outcomes of Keystage One pupils. Yet as a leader of a school participating in the research, the value in terms of relationships and parental engagement was there is much to be said for building a community around the school and confidence in a family and school collaboration.

Perhaps the greatest challenge to this trial was the implementation time; just 8 weeks. The programme brought families together to eat, undertake learning activities (with and without their children) and to celebrate their children’s successes with school staff alongside the family. The programme had significant potential and it remains to be seen whether a longitudinal study over at least a year could yield different results.

In the same week the research led by Durham University and the University of York into low cost tutoring for pupils across 105 schools is shown to be highly effective in a short time frame. The trial utilised the Tutor Trust; specialists in training and paying university students to support pupils. The trial focused on Y6 pupils and delivered one hour of maths tuition per week over 12 weeks. The impact suggests a high value response with pupils gaining 3 months+.

Ultimately the research is excellent, the conundrum will be whether it is possible to implement this method across the country and in particular, in our region where there are not university students who can easily commute to our more remote areas and provincial primary schools. (Note the research took place in Leeds and Greater Manchester).

As costs to this project are already potentially high, there will need to be careful consideration for starting a scheme that involves tutoring in a time of education cuts. Yet, there is also evidence within the study that tutoring is effective when pupils are grouped and there are already several schools who work with tutors on flexible contracts to allow additional hours. So if a school can overcome this barrier then tutelage in small groups may prove possible, reliable and sustainable.

Perhaps the greatest message to take from both pieces of research is that ultimately confidence was increased in both trials and that this was deemed to come from the formation of meaningful relationships.

That specialist focus upon an area of study and the relationship fostered between tutor and tutee were evaluated as being a key factor in the success of the tutor trial and it raises new questions about whether this is possible in a broader subject range.

Evaluation report FAST

Evaluation report Tutor Trust

Louise Davidson, Kyra ELE