Innovation Evaluation Grants

The first four IEE Innovation Evaluation Grants were awarded in February 2017. Funded by the IEE, these grants supported pilot evaluations of innovations of teaching and learning approaches based on the Research Schools Network’s goal of improving the attainment of pupils by increasing the use of evidence-based practices.

Since then a further 26 projects have been successful in their application for an IEE Innovation Evaluation Grant, bringing the total number to 30. The applications we received included a wide range of interesting, school-led innovations – from after-school film clubs to improve the creative writing of Year 5 pupils, to the use of audio feedback with Year 12 pupils – and we were really impressed with the thought that applicants had put into how these innovations could be evaluated.

The evaluations are small-scale, and test the kinds of innovations that schools are interested in. This is very much a “bottom-up” exercise, allowing schools to get some indicative evidence behind real-world initiatives.

Many evaluations are now coming to an end, and we are starting to publish reports on the findings. It is important remember that these are small-scale projects, often carried out in one school, so it is not possible to generalise their findings. In fact, the main benefit of the Innovation Evaluation projects may be in the process, rather than the findings.

Have a look at the Innovation Evaluation projects we’ve funded so far

If you would like to be kept up-to-date with news about the Innovation Evaluation project, including information on the next Innovation Evaluation conference to be held on 23 January 2020, please subscribe here:

Learning by Questions innovation evaluation grants

These IEE innovation evaluation grants, funded by Learning by Questions, supported schools to test a new innovation in classroom practice. Find out more here

Useful resources

Innovation Evaluation Handbook September 2017

Writing up your innovation evaluation report

Innovation Evaluation Projects: summary reports booklet

Current and completed innovation evaluation projects

Building resilience in learners

Sidmouth College worked with six schools to deliver and evaluate a six-week course based on cognitive behaviour therapy principles to Year 7 pupils who have been identified as having low attendance, achievement, poor behaviour and attitude to learning. Their evaluation tested whether interventions are effective in improving pupils’ wellbeing and resilience so that they feel settled in the classroom and are ready to learn. Read the final report

Desk cycle study

In this innovation evaluation, Crescent Academy evaluated whether having access to a desk cycle reduces levels of hyperactivity for Year 5 and 6 pupils with high prior levels of hyperactivity (rated by teachers) and helps them to focus more in lessons, leading to an improvement in maths attainment. Of additional interest was whether there were any changes in the fitness levels of the pupils. Read the final report

Developing word knowledge

This innovation evaluation sought to determine what impact a weekly direct instruction spelling intervention, delivered via a 30-week vocabulary programme, had on spelling recall accuracy and automaticity, reading fluency (reading rate and accuracy) and reading comprehension outcomes in primary age school children in Years 3 and 5. Read the final report


This innovation tested whether Year 8 pupils’ retention of content knowledge in their long-term memory could be improved when carrying out low-stakes quizzing and responding to analytical questions in history and in English. Read the final report

The effect of immediate (live) marking on pupil progress in science

The Westwood Academy’s innovation provided pupils with immediate feedback during science lessons to enable them to develop their thinking in class, and thereby increase their knowledge and understanding of the subject. However, because of personal circumstances the project lead was not able to complete the evaluation and the project halted in April 2018. A report will not be published for this evaluation. Read more

Enhancing reading skills in young learners

Garden Fields School evaluated an innovation that aims to develop early reading skills through explicit phonological awareness teaching and sight word recognition. Read the final report

Evaluating the impact of feedback using an audio tool compared to written feedback

This project evaluated the effectiveness of teachers recording verbal feedback for pupils, both in terms of improving A-level test outcomes in sociology and maths and having a positive impact on teacher workload.Read the final report

Evaluating the impact of Mastery English on reading ages in Year 7 and on teacher workload

Notre Dame High School trialled the use of a Mastery English approach in Year 7 to evaluate whether it impacted on reading comprehension and overall reading achievement. Read the final report

Implementation of Knowledge Organisers in Year 8 English lessons

Claremont High School Academy conducted a research project to see if use of Knowledge Organisers and regular quizzing improved pupils’ knowledge and therefore improved their assessment scores. Read the final report.

Improving children’s narrative writing through film clubs

Legsby Primary School led an evaluation into the impact of attending after school film clubs on the creative writing of Year 5 pupils. Read the final report

Improving reading fluency

Garden Fields School evaluated the impact of a small-group reading fluency intervention on the reading comprehension of children in Year 4, 5 and 6 who are working below age related expectation. Read the final report

Improving times tables fluency

Underwood West Academy evaluated which balance of procedural and conceptual approaches to teaching times tables was most effective in improving scores in a timed times tables test for Year 4 pupils. Read the final report

Investigating a sustainable approach to teaching languages in primary schools

Golbourne High School are investigating whether a modern foreign languages curriculum developed by teachers at the school can teach Year 5 pupils the grammatical knowledge and skills they need to be successful in Key Stages 3 and 4. They will also investigate the most effective and sustainable level of support required to deliver this in primary schools. This project did not start due to the logistical challenges of carrying out an evaluation across a number of schools. A report will not be published for this project. Read more

Let’s Think Early Years

An approach to maths teaching for Reception children that also aims to improve general reasoning level and outcomes at Early Years Foundation Stage, was introduced into four Reception classrooms. Pupils experienced a series of guided, small-group activities, alongside their usual maths curriculum. Read the final report

Low stakes quizzing

Heathfield Community College evaluated the impact of low stakes quizzing for 10 minutes a week, compared to less rigid, structured quizzing across an academic year, on the application of subject knowledge and progress in Year 8 history and geography pupils. Read the final report

A metacognitive approach to the learning and teaching of spelling (MALTS)

Rathfern Primary School in Lewisham led on a project to evaluate a metacognitive approach to learning and teaching spelling. Read the final report

The Meta-package

St John’s International Academy in Wiltshire delivered an intervention called The Meta-Package, a series of lessons on neuroscience, memory and self-regulation with an accompanying language for learning element. Their evaluation considered what impact the intervention had on the progress, metacognitive awareness and mindset of Year 7 pupils. Read the final report

No More Marking

Notre Dame High School evaluated the impact of an online comparative judgement platform on teacher workload and pupils’ English outcomes in Years 7, 8 and 9. Read the final report

Reading Masters

Vauxhall Primary School evaluated the impact of Reading Masters delivered over an academic year on the reading skills of pupils in Year 4. Read the final report

Retrieval practice in primary science lessons

Old Hill Academy evaluated the impact of retrieval practice, in the form of multiple-choice quizzing, during the teaching of one science unit on performance in science tests for pupils in Years 2–5. Read the final report

Science learning journals

Heathfield Community College evaluated the impact of using learning journals in science lessons for one academic year on the recall and application of science knowledge for Year 6 pupils. Read the final report

Structured after school support and its impact on reading age

This innovation comprised of two reading sessions per week for 25 weeks. One session focused on reading and comprehension of text. The second session focused on developing study skills – in particular pupils’ ability to research and carry out enquiries in a range of curriculum areas (history, geography and science). Read the final report

Teaching A-level pupils “skills for learning”

Ashby School investigated whether a skills for learning course supported the academic attainment of Year 12 A-level pupils with relatively low prior attainment. Read the final report

Using self-regulated strategy development to improve writing in Year 8

Highfield School evaluated the impact of self-regulated strategy development, delivered from September to June, on Year 8 pupils’ extended writing. Read the final report

Using testing to improve the quality of learning in reading

Ocker Hill Academy evaluated the impact of hypercorrection on the reading comprehension ability of Year 5 pupils. Read the full report

Vocabulary Banking

Bishop Challoner Catholic College investigated whether it is possible to accelerate rates of vocabulary development by training pupils in an active reading strategy called “Vocabulary Banking”. Read the final report

Word rich readers

Based directly on the ‘Faster Read’ research by Westbrook, Sutherland, Oakhill and Sullivan (2018), the Weald School conducted an evaluation of a project designed to keep pupils reading during the primary/secondary transition phrase. Read the final report

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