Description of the innovation
The Meta-package includes two distinct elements – a series of lessons on neuroscience and a language-for-learning approach that was incorporated into tutor group lessons. The innovation was designed to have a long-lasting effect resulting in improved progress in English Baccalaureate (Ebacc) subjects.
The Meta-package began with a series of seven lessons on neuroscience spaced fortnightly, and running between October and December. In January, the language-for-learning element began, which was present in all lessons where intervention pupils were taught as a tutor group (approximately 50% of their timetable).
Summary of the evaluation
- The project was run in a rural secondary academy with 10% of pupils eligible for the pupil premium (PP) and very low levels of pupils with English as an additional language (EAL).
- The project was run with 261 Year 7 pupils, 143 were in the five mixed gender and prior-attainment intervention classes and 118 were in four mixed gender and prior-attainment control classes.
- The three outcome measures used in the evaluation were:
– summative assessment across the seven subjects where language for learning was used
– the Metacognitive Awareness Inventory (MAI, Schraw and Dennison 1994)
– a mindset measurement tool from the Project for Education Research that Scales (PERTs).
Summary of findings
Intervention group pupils made more progress than control group pupils in history, geography and science, all of which have written examinations, with an average effect size of +0.37. However, across the four subjects of music, drama, art, and philosophy and religion (PR), all with either portfolio, project or performance-based assessments, the effect size was -0.05. Across all seven subjects the average effect size was +0.16.
The MAI effect size across all cognition areas was 0.00. There were some positive aspects within that; particularly the declarative knowledge effect size of +0.16. However, there were also negative effects seen particularly within the information management systems measure, which gave an effect size of -0.36.
The mindset measure showed an effect size of +0.11.
The positive effect sizes seen in history, geography and science are promising, but the negative effect sizes in art, drama, music and PR are not. The progress within history, geography and science was made six months after the intervention and is a positive achievement if valid. There is some evidence that the language-for-learning aspect is important to make progress. The study conclusions are limited in what can be generalised due to the variable effect size across academic subjects. The study was with just one age group in one school in a rural setting with low percentage of EAL and PP pupils compared to the national average. Further study is required and several improvements are suggested.