Implementation of Knowledge Organisers in Year 8 English lessons

Description of the innovation

As the GCSE examinations in English have moved to a linear set-up, pupils need to rely significantly on memory. They need thorough and in-depth knowledge of the texts they study, including contextual information and subject terminology, as well as the knowledge of the skills they need in order to succeed. I believe that these knowledge and skills can be built upon effectively in Key Stage 3. I wanted to conduct a research project to see if use of Knowledge Organisers (KO) and regular quizzing could improve pupils’ knowledge and therefore improve their assessment scores. The expectations were as follows:

• Pupils would be given a KO at the beginning of the unit which would categorise all the knowledge that pupils would need over the course of that unit.

• Each lesson would begin with a five-question knowledge recap pertinent to the ensuing lesson.

• Pupils would be encouraged to refer to the KO during lesson time to reinforce missing knowledge.

• Weekly 10-question quizzes would test pupils on a specific knowledge category.

• Homework would consist of quiz revision and completion of activities taken from the KO.

My research question was as follows:

What impact does the use of Knowledge Organisers and regular testing in English, used over one unit of work (six weeks), have on the written skills of Year 8 pupils compared to similar pupils who did not use them?

Summary of the evaluation

The school: The project took place in a mixed, comprehensive school in Brent, North West London. Among the 1,600 pupils enrolled, there is a large mixture of ethnic backgrounds and one in three pupils speak English as a second language or are bilingual.

The pupils: 173 pupils across six Year 8 English classes (age 12–13). All classes are mixed ability.

The measures: All pupils completed a pre-project and post-project writing test to determine levels of progress.

Summary of findings

As a whole, pupils who took part in the innovation made less progress than those who did not. Having said this, elements of the lesson design were popular with pupils and teachers alike.

Lead school

  • Claremont High School Academy

Main findings

  • The overall effect size was -0.171
  • -0.23 for boys and -0.051 for girls

Download the protocol document