As part of the Centres for Excellence in Maths programme in FE colleges, the Centre for Research in Mathematics Education (CRME) of the University of Nottingham undertook a rigorous randomised controlled trial of an approach to Teaching for Mastery in FE.
This investigated two levels of intervention: a “partial” design involved a professional development programme together with lesson resources that exemplified the teaching approach, and a “full” intervention that additionally included a programme of lesson study.
The study was carried out in the academic year 2021-2, and although Covid-19 proved disruptive over winter months the programmes were carried out in line with the designed intentions.
It was found that both programmes had an effect in terms of improving students’ GCSE scores when compared to students who were taught by teachers not on the Nottingham programmes. Students of teachers in the full intervention performed slightly better than those of teachers in the partial intervention.
Although students of teachers experiencing the partial intervention had slightly better scores they had no discernible increase in “learning months”, but all students taught by “full intervention” teachers experienced a one month learning gain over “business as usual” teachers.
Most importantly, those students who come from the most deprived backgrounds (as measured by uptake of free school meals) taught by teachers in the full intervention performed even better at a level that translates to two additional months of learning. These students were found to benefit most from learning maths in the content of the exemplary lessons.
Overall, it appears that the factor that makes most difference is that of the lesson study engagement of the teachers in the full intervention. This is a practice that originated in Japan but is now used in various adaptations in many countries. It has become an integral part of much of the work of CRME over the last decade with researchers working with colleagues in Japan. The study, with total DfE funding of almost £2 million is the first time the efficacy of the lesson study approach in this way has been validated in a large-scale randomised controlled trial.
The full report of the research team’s findings has now been published.
Posted on Thursday 30th March 2023