More than half of funding pledged by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) for research projects in FE is still up for grabs, the organisation has said.
The EEF had announced in July 2016 that it was moving into post-16 education and making £5 million available for projects to boost the prospects of students without good GCSE passes in maths and English - a move that was welcomed by many in the sector. But six months on, only four projects have attracted support from the EEF.
The most recent trial, led by The Manchester College, to find out whether short tests and handwritten exercises could help college students in their GCSE English resits, was announced last month.
The foundation told Tes that, of the original £5 million pot, almost £3 million had yet to be allocated. This was down to a lack of awareness of research in the sector, said senior programme manager Eleanor Stringer: “Whenever we move into a new area, it takes a while to get going…We are new to the sector and it is very different [from schools].”
Smaller scale than schools
Approximately 70 submissions were made in response to the first call for applications from post-16 providers, she added, but much of the existing research was smaller scale than in schools. “For a start, there are far fewer colleges,” said Ms Stringer. “In schools, we have projects coming to us working with 30, 40 or 50 schools. You won’t get that in colleges.”
The EEF is planning further work to raise awareness of the funding available.
The first three post-16 projects funded by the EEF were announced in March. The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) received £700,000 to extend its work on embedding contextualisation in English and maths GCSE teaching to 1,500 learners across 100 settings.
Maths-for-life and supportive texts
The University of Nottingham’s Maths-for-Life project received £640,000 to expand its initiative to teach challenging maths concepts through student-centred classes focusing on problem-solving and discussion. Some 8,000 post-16 students from 100 settings will take part in the trial.
In addition, the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) – the “nudge unit” that was originally established within the Cabinet Office, but is now operating as a limited company – was awarded £240,000 to test whether the sending of encouraging text messages to students and those designated as “study supporters” (for example, a peer, parent or mentor) might improve attendance and attainment. More than 30 colleges are now taking part in the study.
This is an edited version of an article in the 5 January edition of Tes. Subscribers can read the full story here. To subscribe, click here. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here. Tes magazine is available at all good newsagents