Teaching Assistant-based small group support for literacy

Existing evidence, summarised in the Sutton Trust toolkit, suggests that teaching assistants have very low impact for relatively high cost. At the same time, evidence on the impact of small group tuition appears to show moderate impact for moderate cost. However there is a limited evidence base for both these approaches. This project, funded by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and is trialling two different approaches to supporting Year 1 children's reading attainment. One of the models involves use of an IT package. As with teaching assistant support and small group teaching, evidence about the efficacy of ICT use in schools is weak. The project is being led by Clare Wood at Coventry University. LSE is carrying out a full quantitative evaluation of the intervention, while NIESR is carrying out a qualitative, process evaluation.


Around 60 schools will be recruited to the trial in early 2014 and their Year 1 pupils will be randomly assigned to the two different interventions or to a control group. Education experts Dr Sandra McNally and Dr Gill Wyness at the London School of Economics are measuring the impact on pupils through reading and language skills tests at the beginning of the Autumn terms (2014) and at the end of the intervention. The process evaluation, conducted by NIESR, is aimed at assessing the design and approach of the intervention, including training, teaching assistant and pupil response to the programme and experiences of delivery through small groups.

Timescale and funding

The evaluation is funded by the Education Endowment Foundation. Recruitment of schools to the intervention began in 2013.  The project will be delivered in schools in the West Midlands from 2014 and will be completed in 2016 when the final report is published.

More information is available about the project on the EEF website project page

Research programmes