A programme combining three high-profile national training schemes aimed at helping schools in challenging areas has been found to have no significant impact.
As well as Teach First, which fast-tracks graduates into schools, the programme involved Teaching Leaders, which is aimed boosting the leadership skills of department heads, and Future Leaders - which placed teachers deemed to have outstanding leadership skills into schools involved in the trial.
The three charities came together to recruit and develop high-potential teachers in schools with high numbers of disadvantaged pupils, for a programme called "Achieve Together".
But an Education Endowment Foundation-funded evaluation found: "There is no evidence that Achieve Together had an impact on pupil attainment at the end of secondary school, as measured by GCSEs and all secondary outcomes. This is true for all sub-groups of pupils considered."
Similar results were found for children eligible, and not eligible, for free school meals, and children with higher and lower prior attainment, although these results were "less secure" because of the smaller numbers of pupils.
Some schools struggled to coordinate the different aspects of the programme, and were unable to fully engage with it given its "resource intensive nature". A separate pilot of the programme at schools in Bournemouth came across similar problems.
The per pupil cost of Achieve Together is £16.47 per year per pupil over three years, on average. But there was some variation in cost across the schools, depending on the number of participants for each element of the programme, with the total cost over three years amounting to between £17,000 and £75,000 per school.
On average, the total average staff time required for a school participating in Achieve Together over three years was 84 days in school time and 188 days of outside school time.
The main trial was initially designed as a randomised controlled trial, but low recruitment led to it changing to a comparison group study in 14 schools.
Eleanor Stringer, senior programme manager at the EEF, said the findings were no reflection on the impact of the individual schemes taking part.
She said: “The big learning was about the partnership working.” Similar schemes involving multiple players would “need to think really carefully about the communication, and make sure that the activities are aligned”, she said.
A Teach First spokesperson said: “We know from working with thousands of schools across the country that good leadership is vital to improving educational outcomes for poorer children. We carried out the Achieve Together pilot to explore ways in which we can support teachers to develop as leaders.
“As the independent evaluation makes clear, schools that took part felt that the skills they developed would have a positive impact on attainment in the longer term. Though the evaluation could not demonstrate the kind of pupil progress we'd hoped for in the short term, the pilot has given us valuable lessons that we will build on as we support schools in the future.”