Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence


Memorandum from the Department for Education and Skills


  1.  This document responds to the Committee's request for information on the processes adopted by DfES for using research and evidence in policy making. Two policy issues were selected for questioning by the Committee: the DfES announcement on 20 March 2006 concerning the future role of phonics in early reading; and the role of evidence in the development of Sure Start. In both cases, the Committee asked how far the processes involved were typical. The first part of this Memorandum therefore sets out the Department's general framework for handling evidence.

The strategic context for handling evidence and analysis within DfES

  2.  The Department approaches the use of research and analysis in a strategic context. This reflects the strategic role for the Department as a whole set out in the 2004 Five Year Strategy for Children and Learners. It involves a number of complementary developments.

  3.  There is systematic identification of the major challenges facing education and children's services, and the analytical implications which they pose. These include challenges set by Treasury as part of the framework for the 2007 Spending Review, such as globalisation, and overarching policy drivers, such as the high priority given to social mobility. Analytical efforts continue to address the Department's concern with efficiency and effectiveness.

  4.  As a result, there is a range of strategic issues have been identified for analysis. Some relate to individual sectors (HE, Lifelong Learning, Children's services), others are system-wide. The challenges and strategic issues are being brought together into a single framework to guide, prioritise and then monitor the Department's programme of analysis and research. Examples of issues which are being addressed include the longer term impacts of early years provision, the most effective interventions to narrow social class gaps in attainment, and the drivers for youth engagement in positive or anti-social activities.

The prioritising and commissioning of evidence

  5.  Within the Department, much of the research, data, modelling and analysis is handled by an analytical community of social researchers, economists, statisticians and operational researchers. Policy officials are responsible for determining specific evaluation needs and for making use of evidence, and for commissioning periodic independent reviews that embrace both analytical and good practice evidence. The Department's Strategy Unit is often involved in drawing together, interpreting and disseminating evidence.

  6.  The analytical work undertaken to support policy partly reflects the state of knowledge in any given field. Where the knowledge base is weak, the priority is to generate new insights to support policy intervention. This is where most externally contracted research is focused. Across all areas, but especially where the evidence base is richer, the goal is to marshal evidence from a range of sources to provide a clear and coherent picture.

  7.  Analytical work is conducted both internally, which offers flexibility to respond to issues as need arises, and externally. The external work involves a range of research studies, reviews and statistical or econometric analysis. These may be commissioned as self-standing projects or as part of programmes of work at external centres (eg the Centre for the Economics of Education; Centre for Research into the Wider Benefits of Learning).

  8.  Proposals for external projects are considered by a Research Approvals Committee (RAC), comprising senior analysts and policy officials, and chaired by the Department's Chief Scientific Adviser (who is also the Chief Economist). RAC recommendations go to the Secretary of State for consideration and approval for funding, which may be from the Department's central research budget (mainly for strategically-related research) or programme budgets (mainly for policy evaluation). Quality assurance processes for research studies are currently being reviewed. As part of this, the practicalities of formal peer reviews of research, and post-project assessment of policy impact, are being considered.

  9.  Independent policy and practice reviews are commissioned periodically to bring together diverse evidence and representations on a high-profile issue, and to make recommendations for Government action. Commissions for such reviews are typically developed at senior policy level, with an invitation coming directly from Ministers. In some cases, a commission is given to a partner organisation whose remit covers the issue, such as the 2005 HEFCE review of risks to strategically important subjects. In other situations, an individual or group of external figures are asked to undertake a review. DfES typically provides staff support and makes available existing evidence for the review.

  10.  The Rose Review was one of a number of such reviews over the last two years, others being Foster (FE sector roles and reform), Steer (behaviour in schools) and the current Gilbert Review (personalisation of teaching and learning). In each case, the issues required an exploration and drawing together of a wide range of evidence and opinions, from practitioner experience through stakeholder representation to inspection and academic evidence. Decisions to commission such reviews draw on existing analysis and evidence.

Evidence gathering and synthesis

  11.  The Department's analysis and research programme gathers different types of evidence, through a number of mechanisms. It includes:

    —  longitudinal studies: DfES fully funds the Longitudinal Study of Young People and Education and the Youth Cohort Study, and co-funds or supports the Millennium Cohort Study and others;

    —  research centres: seven are current funded, which develop programmes of research in related areas, rather than simply conduct single studies or analyses. Outputs may cover individual issue or topics (e.g. CEE on choice, EPPI on thinking skills) or wider syntheses (eg WBL on a conceptual framework for education's non-economic contribution).

    —  Contributions to International studies (PIRLS, TIMSS, PISA)

    —  Policy or issue-specific evaluations: some are medium-term programmes of work (Surestart, Aimhigher, Education Maintenance Allowances, Extended Schools), others are single studies or analyses (eg on Formalised Peer Mentoring Pilot, School Efficiency measures)

    —  reviews of existing evidence, some adopting systematic review principles, others for more urgent and formative purposes.

  12.  The Department's work is closely linked to the efforts of partners, and also to cross-Government developments. On some issues, other organisations lead on evidence gathering, with the Department drawing on their findings for policy (eg the Food Standards Agency for nutrition in schools, Becta (British Educational Communications and Technology Agency) on e-learning. There are also wider analytical developments, such as the Treasury-led Atkinson Review of Government Output and Productivity, where DfES analysts had a significant role.

The contribution of evidence to policy making

  13.  Evidence is incorporated into policy formulation and implementation in a number of ways. There is direct policy engagement with studies and analysis, whether as commissioners of work or through participation in steering or review groups. Emerging and final results feed into policy consideration on an ongoing basis. Depending on the point reached in policy cycles, the influence of evidence may be on policy development, on implementation or in support of front-line practice and leadership.

  14.  Different types of analytical work can make different contributions to policy. It is common for synthesis of existing research, or exploratory analysis, to set a context for policy or strategic thinking. The development of options for 14-19 policies, for example, was informed at various stages by analysis of the motivations and decisions of young people and the returns to different qualifications. Research and statistical evidence on the poor progress made by many pupils on moving to secondary school was an important prompt for the extension of the Primary National Strategy into Key Stage 3.

  15.  Large scale evaluations typically relate to the implementation of policies or options for delivery. The amounts and payment mechanisms for Education Maintenance Allowances, for example, were piloted and subject to both quantitative and qualitative evaluation. The eventual roll-out reflected the most favourable option from the research. Econometric analysis of the impact of Employer Training Pilots identified high deadweight, which was countered in the national programme (Train to Gain). Modelling and projections work supports funding decisions and the setting of targets and priorities for policy intervention. PSA targets on pupil absence, for example, were based on detailed analysis of trends for schools in different deprivations bands, as assessed by Free School Meals. And the modelling of alternative options for Higher Education student support was influential in shaping the final decision on repayment thresholds and rates.


  16.  Since the introduction of the National Literacy Strategy, now part of the Primary National Strategy (PNS), considerable improvements have been secured in the standards achieved in reading and writing. Nevertheless, since its inception, the Strategy has sought to draw upon new evidence and developments in order to further strengthen and refine its approaches. As part of the commitment to ensuring that the PNS continues to provide the most effective support for teaching reading (and literacy more widely), the Department announced in 2005 an intention to renew the cornerstone literacy document, the Framework for teaching.

Rationale for commissioning an independent review of early reading

  17.  There is wide consensus over the centrality of learning to read in children's education, but there has been a longstanding debate about how best to teach early reading. Since 1998, the National Curriculum has required all primary schools to teach phonics. It did not specify how phonics should be taught but guidance was provided in the Framework for teaching.

  18.  The Department was clear that the renewal of the Framework, plus plans to introduce the new Early Years Foundation Stage[115] (EYFS), needed to be informed by a comprehensive examination of the available evidence. This would include formal research findings but also wider evidence from discussions with key stakeholders, first-hand observation of practice and the representations and submissions of organisations engaged in the literacy field. Any set of recommendations for new pedagogical approaches needed to carry credibility across many different interest groups and stakeholders.

  19.  Policy officials and advisers defined the Department's requirement as credible and practice-grounded recommendations which could be implemented in a revised Framework and in the new EYFS. An independent review, of the type outlined in paragraphs 9 and 10 above, was judged to be the best mechanism to address the wide-ranging issues of practice, development and training. The over-riding consideration was that the long-standing debate around phonics had led to a divergent set of opinions. For example, the Chair of the Education and Skills Committee, referring to that Committee's report on teaching reading, noted that ". . . When we took evidence on this particular topic . . . passions ran very high". Against this background, the Department concluded that securing a consensus would most likely be achieved by an independent expert making recommendations from a combined analysis of research and practice. Jim Rose was invited to lead the review as he fulfilled the criteria of being independent, credible and well-informed. The remit for the review is attached at Annex A.

  20.  In conclusion, the Department considered that an independent review would yield the greatest benefits in terms of:

    (i)  building a comprehensive picture to inform work to strengthen the quality of support for teaching early reading;

    (ii)  ensuring a robust process founded on evidence from research, practice and stakeholder opinion; and

    (iii)  establishing broad consensus about recommendations which would allow for successful implementation via the Framework and revised teaching training and development processes.

Responses to the Committee's questions

  Q.   In view of the uncertain conclusions on synthetic phonics reached by the DfES-commissioned research referred to in the Rose final report (p 19), what weight was given to:

    (i)  analysis of existing relevant research,

    (ii)  experience and pilots in the UK and

    (iii)  other factors in reaching a decision on the new policy?

  21.  From the late 1990s, the Department had been aware that prior formal research did not point overwhelmingly to a particular conclusion about synthetic phonics (see Annex B for definitions of approaches to phonics). Accordingly, the Rose review was established to integrate a wide set of evidence, which included all the categories in the Committee's question. The purpose was to identify best practice in the teaching of reading, including the role played by synthetic phonics. The following sources were employed in addressing the five fold remit set out by the Secretary of State.

    —     Published research on literacy in general and the teaching of reading in particular. This included the systematic review of trials using phonics, which was commissioned by the Department in 2005 (see paragraph 23);

    —    The report by the Education and Skills Committee on teaching reading;

    —    Reports and data from Ofsted, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, and the DfES;

    —    Evidence from classroom practice: notably, a bespoke HMI exercise to monitor the use of phonics in a variety of schools;

    —    Additional visits to settings, and schools, including some engaged in the Primary National Strategy's Early Reading Development Pilot;

    —    Attendance of practitioner and teacher training sessions;

    —    Discussions with practitioners, teachers and those responsible for training them; and

    —    Oral and written representations from individuals and organisations in the fields of literacy and early reading.

  22.  A full list of the types of evidence considered, which appears in the published report, is at Annex C. In addition, Jim Rose drew upon a review advisory team, comprised of researchers and an HMI, which brought expertise in different aspects of the review's remit. One of the advisory researchers was Greg Brooks, who also co-authored the DfES-commissioned systematic review.

  23.  The DfES research referred to by the Committee was one of a number of studies or reviews considered by Jim Rose. It was a systematic review of published quantitative studies on the teaching of phonics, conducted by Carole Torgerson, Greg Brooks and Jill Hall. A systematic review gathers published evidence according to clear criteria. In this case, the studies included were confined to randomised control trials (RCTs) focusing on the use of phonics instruction in English. The studies had to compare a systematic approach to phonics delivery with either unsystematic or non-phonics teaching, or else directly compare synthetic and analytical phonics teaching. In all cases, studies needed to report or allow calculation of statistical effect sizes to order to be used for the synthesis of results. A total of 12 RCTs met the full criteria for comparing systematic phonics with alternative reading approaches, although only one was a British study. The primarily North American context is an issue to consider in assessing the contribution of the RCT evidence.

  24.  Torgerson et al concluded that the use of phonics in a systematic fashion within a broad literacy curriculum, as a means of improving reading accuracy, was supported by the RCT evidence included in their review. This matches Jim Rose's view, which he drew from much wider evidence, about the value of teaching phonics in a systematic fashion. However, evidence from RCTs was less able to answer other questions addressed in the systematic review. For example, few of the included trials covered reading comprehension; as a result, the effect on comprehension of a systematic approach to phonics was not statistically significant. Similarly, there was insufficient trial evidence on the issue of spelling, and on direct comparison between the synthetic and analytic phonics approaches, to draw statistically valid conclusions on these questions. The authors also advised caution in using their RCT evidence because of the variation in the amount of phonics teaching involved in different trials, from just a few hours to well over 100 hours.

  25.  As described above, Jim Rose drew on a much wider range of evidence than the mainly North American randomised control trials in Torgerson et al. The conclusions from UK practice, as reported by the specific HMI visits undertaken for the review and from his own discussions and observations, not only supported the case for using phonics but suggested that synthetic phonics was the best route for young children learning to read. In giving evidence to the Education and Skills Committee in January, Jim Rose confirmed that the evidence he saw from practice was compelling. [116]His report states that the principles of a systematic approach using synthetic phonics "featured consistently in the best work seen including the visits undertaken by HMI for the review". However, he also confirmed that phonics by itself is not sufficient to fully equip children with all the skills they need to become effective readers. In this respect, his findings are not inconsistent with the Torgerson et al position that too few controlled studies have been undertaken in relation to comprehension and spelling to demonstrate a positive effect of phonics in these areas.

  Q.   What other evidence and research, in addition to the reports by Jim Rose, were used to inform the decision; and was his work subject to peer review?

  26.  The Rose review was not the starting point for evidence on the teaching of early reading. The National Literacy Strategy was founded on earlier research conclusions about reading, and its continued evolution has taken account of evaluated best practice. As a result, the Strategy always emphasised the importance of systematic approaches and the key role of phonics. The review was, therefore, conducted against the background of evidence-based principles that were already inherent within the Strategy.

  27.  The review was designed to be a thorough and coherent analysis of all types of evidence, including that commissioned or provided by the Department (including the Torgerson et al review). Jim Rose kept the Department informed of his emerging assessments, enabling Ministers and officials to weigh them against information already available to the Department. He considered the Department's responses fully in preparing his drafts, although he retained full responsibility for producing an independent report. This process enabled the Department to be confident that the published reports reflected the evidence obtained. Ministers were therefore able to accept the recommendations fully.

  28.  There are two issues to consider in relation to peer review, which, in the scientific sense, seeks to test the robustness of the analytical design and methods brought to bear on the research question. First, the Rose review was not a research study per se, but aimed to assess existing evidence and practice. A peer review of the classic type would be less relevant in this situation. Many of the studies examined had been peer reviewed themselves, of course, prior to publication.

  29.  Second, the independent and wide consultation undertaken by Jim Rose, including with many researchers, did allow expert judgements to be fed into the process. His interim report invited comments on the issues raised and the evidence included. Over 300 written responses were received during the course of the Review. The input from Rose's expert advisory team, whose members had a predominantly research background, provided a further mechanism to ensure robustness in the Review's conclusions. These channels gave full opportunity for the research community to test the review's emerging conclusions, which were reaffirmed in the final report.

  Q.   What steps are in place to evaluate the implementation and results of the policy?

  30.  The Department will monitor closely the implementation of the recommendations from the review through a number of mechanisms, many of which are already established. The Primary National Strategy regional advisers will continue their programme of monitoring implementation of the Strategy at local level. Throughout 2006-07, the focus will be on the progress made by early years settings, schools and local authorities in adopting and implementing the renewed literacy framework and associated support which will be introduced from Autumn 2006. Over time, this will extend to include the implementation of support offered by the new Early Years Foundation Stage when this is introduced from 2008.

  31.  External agencies have also been invited to monitor and evaluate the implementation. Ofsted's 2006-07 evaluation of the Primary National Strategy will focus on the implementation and impact of the Strategy's renewed support in schools and local authorities. Ofsted has also been invited to review the quality of training in the teaching of reading that providers of Initial Teacher Training (ITT) offer over the next two years. The Strategy will additionally draw upon external expert advice to inform its development of professional development materials and programmes for teaching early reading.

  32.  Finally, Jim Rose has been asked by the Secretary of State to assess, and provide advice in early 2007, on the progress made in implementing his recommendations for teaching and practice, based on the first stage of implementation in Autumn 2006.

  33.  The effectiveness of making synthetic phonics the prime strategy in teaching children to read will be assessed through analysis of national and local attainment and progress data. National results for the Foundation Stage, and Key Stages 1 and 2 already yield a rich source of evidence about standards achieved in reading, writing and English. We will consider how best to interrogate the national data to make an effective assessment of the impact of our revised approaches. The approach will take account of the national nature of the implementation, which does not allow for classic control trials or studies. The emerging findings from analysis of effectiveness will also guide future development of support for early reading.


  34.  The independent review of early reading was undertaken to provide a comprehensive picture of best practice in the teaching of early reading. It was seen as the soundest basis on which to make recommendations for further strengthening the quality of the support already offered to settings and schools. In accepting the review's recommendations, the Department was satisfied that these criteria have been fulfilled. The focus now is on ensuring that the enhanced support is developed, introduced and implemented in line with the review's recommendations, and on monitoring the effects of the initiative.



  35.  The development of the Sure Start programme and its successor policy, Children's Centres, has been heavily and consistently informed by research evidence. The Sure Start programme was built on evidence from a wide range of both UK and international studies. The National Evaluation of Sure Start (NESS), the Department's Effective Provision of Pre-School Education study (EPPE) and other UK and international studies continue to be instrumental in the development of early years policy.

 The genesis of the Sure Start Programme

  36.  The Sure Start Programme emerged from a cross cutting review of services for young children undertaken by a cross-Departmental group, led by HM Treasury, as part of the Government's 1997 Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR). A key part of this review was an independent assessment of the research evidence on what worked in improving outcomes for young children, particularly those in greatest need. Conducted by Marjorie Smith of the Thomas Coram Institute at the Institute of Education, this assessment highlighted evidence from a range of studies demonstrating a clear relationship between poverty and poor child outcomes. It also illustrated the importance of early childhood experiences—both positive and negative—in influencing later outcomes. The Smith assessment concluded that early childhood intervention programmes could have a significant impact on a wide range of child and family outcomes. This underpinned the CSR review's conclusion that:

    "the provision of a comprehensive community based programme of early intervention and family support which built on existing services could have positive and persistent effects, not only on child and family development but also help the cycle of social exclusion and lead to significant long term gain to the Exchequer."

  37.  The Government's consideration of services for young children recognised that the UK evidence on the effectiveness of early intervention was quite limited, with much of the evidence for proposed policies coming from the US. It was recommended that the new programme, which became Sure Start, should be accompanied by a rigorous and comprehensive evaluation.

  38.  These recommendations culminated in the announcement of Government funding of £452 million to set up 250 Sure Start local programmes (SSLPs) in areas of deprivation by 2001-02. These programmes aimed to improve services both for young children and families, in order to improve outcomes for children. The national programme had a dedicated suite of PSA targets that were chosen based on their relationship to future child outcomes. These included smoking in pregnancy, hospital admissions, and speech and language development. These targets ensured that all local programmes worked to common aims.

  39.  Within these common aims, individual Sure Start programmes had relative freedom to develop a package of services that met the needs of their particular community. But they were tasked to select and adopt services and approaches that were evidence based. A range of approaches had already been subject to evaluation and identified in the literature as having positive effects on children and parents, eg parenting interventions such as Webster-Stratton or PEEP (Peers Early Education Partnership) amongst others. The Department published a Guidance document in 1999 (A Guide to Evidence Based Practice) that drew together much of this evidence, enabling local programmes to identify and implement appropriate evidence- based services.

National evaluation of Sure Start

  40.  The Department's commitment to a robust evaluation was clear from the outset. A clear aim of the evaluation strategy was to inform the ongoing development and roll out of the programme, as well as identify its impact once established.

  41.  After a competitive tender, a scoping exercise was undertaken by the Institute of Education to assess the type, level and nature of an evaluation needed for this diverse initiative. The report was used to inform the specification of requirements for the national level evaluation.

  42.  The National Evaluation of Sure Start (NESS) was commissioned in January 2001 after a competitively tendered, open competition. A consortium of academics and consultants, led by Birkbeck College, University of London, won the contract. The first survey of Trailblazer and second round programmes took place later that year.

  43.  NESS is overseen by an integrated governance structure which allows for independent scrutiny of both methodology and findings. An independent expert panel provides this function to both the Department and to the researchers. An additional steering group allows other government departments, researchers and practitioners an opportunity to feed into the development of the evaluation (particularly in sharing messages from their own evaluations and research) as well as ensuring reports are policy relevant and therefore will be useful in policy development in other Government departments.

Response to the Committee's questions

  Q.   What pilot projects were undertaken in conjunction with the Sure Start programme and how were the results of these pilots assessed?

  44.  The initial phase of Sure Start was implemented rapidly and involved a significant number of local programmes. The initial programme design drew heavily on the evidence gathered during the Treasury-led review. The staged roll-out of the local programmes[117] afforded an opportunity to use the first set of 59 SSLPs—the "Trailblazers"—as a pilot for evaluation purposes. These initial programmes provided an opportunity to gather early lessons, and help and support future programmes. Informal feedback was brought together within the Department, through local programme staff themselves, partner agencies and regionally based DfES staff. Staff at Government Offices facilitated the sharing of experience and networking via seminars and meetings, which allowed practitioners to share both positive and negative lessons.

  45.  The Department drew together the information from these different sources and modified its implementation accordingly. It placed greater emphasis on working with pregnant women, for example, not just those already with babies or young children. These policy modifications, as well as examples of good practice, were distilled into guidance which was quickly disseminated to the next tranche or "Round" of programmes. Guidance documents were issued for each new Round, utilising evidence and learning generated by the previous SSLPs.

  46.  Early learning and feedback from programmes on the ground shaped Sure Start policy more fundamentally. It became clear, for example, that the Sure Start "model" did not fit with rural communities, since the geographic proximity to services which was a key feature of the design was more problematic in rural areas. The Department became more flexible in the application of the model and also set up a parallel programme specifically to incorporate rural areas as well as small pockets of deprivation, based on this evidence.

  47.  More formal evaluation of the early rounds came via the national evaluation (NESS), which was designed to cover a series of rounds of implementation. Early lessons from the implementation of Trailblazer and Round 2 programmes were available by early 2002 and fed into further guidance for programmes. As well as providing an overview of early progress, the evaluation identified a number of challenges and barriers to delivery of Sure Start. These included: the need to engage and consult better with families, especially fathers and those from minority ethnic groups; to improve access to services; to build multi-professional teams; and to improve local partnership working. In response, the Department provided additional support in the form of advisers based at Government Offices, as well as targeting its guidance documents on identified issues (eg "Guidance on involving minority ethnic children and families".

  48.  During 2002 the Department assessed the range of evidence which had become available on the pilot programmes. Whilst it was too early to identify formal impacts, the picture that emerged from local evidence and from the early evaluation of Trailblazers was that clearly parents liked (and were using) Sure Start services, and that staff felt they were already making a difference in families' lives. This evidence fed into Spending Review processes, including a Prime Ministers' Strategy Unit review of childcare which recommended the bringing together of DfES work on early education, childcare and SSLPs, and a transfer of joint responsibility from DoH/DfES to DWP/DfES.

  Q.   What were the key lessons from the pilots and how have they been used in the development of the Sure Start programme?

  49.  The process of drawing lessons from the early rounds of local partnerships has been described above, with some examples already cited of modifications to policy implementation. The reports from the national evaluation identified a number of issues which the Department needed to consider. Three further examples are:

    —    it was shown that some of the most disadvantaged families in Sure Start areas were not demonstrating benefits from the programme. This evaluation suggested that groups such as teenage parents or families with children with special needs either did use Sure Start services or that the services provided did not meet their needs and improve outcomes. In response, Departmental guidance "Sure Start Children's Centres Practice Guidance" in November 2005 required that all centres worked closely with low participating groups, through outreach, peer support and other mechanisms. The guidance advised working closely with partner organisations to share expertise, information and data in order to engage such families;

    —    the Sure Start evaluation also found that children living in those local partnerships that were actively engaged with their local health agencies had better outcomes than in other SSLPs. The guidance therefore emphasised closer working relationships with health partners. At a policy level, further emphasis was placed on work with the Department of Health to ensure children's centres remained at the heart of health service delivery to young families;

    —    SSLPs had been set a key goal of helping parents into work or training, which reflected prior evidence that work is a prime route out of poverty. The Sure Start evaluation, however, found that this objective was proving difficult for SSLPs, since some of the activities involved (job search support, directly provided training) fell beyond the traditional remit of early years practitioners. DfES and DWP therefore arranged for closer links between SSLPs and Jobcentre Plus, to ensure that Sure Start parents had easier access both to the full range of advice and support they needed and also to the training providers in their area. Latest figures show fewer children aged 0 to three living in homes completely dependent on benefits in SSLP areas than there were four years ago (down 3.8% to 40.4%). This was a significantly greater drop than in England as a whole (where the figure fell by 1.2% to 22% over the same period.

  50.  Evidence from the national evaluation and other studies has contributed to the design and development of Sure Start, both in the original rollout of local partnerships and in developing Sure Start children's centres, the "successor" policy to SSLPs. Examples of this broader impact of evidence are:

    —    birth cohort studies (supported by the Department) have consistently demonstrated the link between early childhood experience and later outcomes. And the DfES-funded Effective Provision of Pre-School Education (EPPE) longitudinal study has demonstrated that children from disadvantaged backgrounds, in particular, benefit from high quality pre-school. Therefore, a key element of the Government's 10 year Strategy for Childcare (HMT, 2004) and Sure Start children's centres has been to provide high quality integrated education and childcare services in disadvantaged areas. And, based on EPPE evidence that the presence of a qualified teacher was crucial for high quality early years provision, the Department has required that all children's' centres have a minimum level of teacher time on site.

    —    EPPE also found that early years settings that integrated their early education and childcare were among the most successful in improving outcomes for children. This led the Department to develop this type of provision more widely. "One-stop shop" centres that provide both early education, childcare, family support and a range of health and other advice are now at the heart of early years policy. NESS evidence confirms that parents and staff alike prefer the "one stop shop" approach. These and other findings contributed to Practice guidance in November 2005.

  Q.   What other evaluations of the Sure Start programme or research have been undertaken and what role have they played in informing the evolution of the programme?

  51.  From the outset, SSLPs were each required to undertake their own evaluation of their programme. This was intended to encourage reflective practice, test new and innovative approaches and practice robustly, grow the evidence base about what works for children and families, and inform the further development and progress of the programme. SSLPS were encouraged and supported by academics from the NESS team who facilitated workshops, training events, shared information and synthesised findings.

  52.  Local evaluation reports have been extremely useful in disseminating evidence about what works for families and children. This has complemented the more overarching reports of the national evaluation team. Examples of good practice were heavily used in the Children's Centres practice guidance and new evidence will be incorporated into the next set of guidance due for release later in 2006. Mechanisms were established to share evidence and experience between practitioners, policy makers and researchers. This has since extended beyond SSLPs to the wider early years sector, as well as those involved with community development and local regeneration.

  Q.   What has been the total Government expenditure to date on:

    (i)  the pilot projects,

    (ii)  evaluation and commissioned research to inform the programme and

    (iii)  the Sure Start programme as a whole?

  53.  The cost of the overall Sure Start programme to date (1999-2000—2004-05) has been £1.3 billion. Within this, the approximate allocations of capital and revenue from the Department to the 59 Trailblazer local programmes over their first three years of operation was £148 milliom. The National Evaluation of Sure Start is costing £20.3 million over the seven year period 2001-08. This is not solely for the independent national evaluation but includes costs of support provided by the consortium to Sure Start local partnerships for their local evaluation work.

June 2006

Annex A



  What best practice should be expected in the teaching of early reading and synthetic phonics.


  How this relates to the Early Years Foundation Stage and the development and renewal of the National Literacy Strategy's Framework for teaching.


  What range of provision best supports children with significant literacy difficulties and enables them to catch up with their peers, and the relationship of such targeted intervention programmes with synthetic phonics teaching.


  How leadership and management in schools can support the teaching of reading, as well as practitioners' subject knowledge and skills.


  The value for money or cost effectiveness of the range of approaches covered by the review.

Annex B


  Synthetic phonics: the defining characteristics are sounding out and blending phonemes (the smallest units of sound that make a difference to the meaning of a word) in order, all through a word to read it; and segmenting words into their phonemes in order to spell them.

  Analytic phonics: the defining characteristics are inferring letter-sound relationships from sets of words which share a letter and a sound, eg pet, park, push, pen.

  Systematic phonics: teaching letter-sound relationships in an explicit, sequenced fashion, as opposed to incidentally or on a "when-needed" basis.

  Randomised control trials: where two or more groups of children are formed randomly and each group receives a different form of instruction. If one groups makes significantly better progress it can be inferred that the form of teaching they received was more effective, because all other factors which might influence the outcome are controlled for (with the exception of chance).

Annex C


  The review took evidence from a range of sources, the main ones being:

    —    oral evidence, from individuals and associations;

    —    visits;

    —    written evidence.


  Professor Lesley Abbot, Institute of Education, Manchester Metropolitan University.

  Professor Robin Alexander, University of Cambridge.

  Bev Atkinson, Medway LA.

  Sir Michael Barber.

  Ian Barren, Institute of Education, Manchester Metropolitan University.

  Alix Beleschenko, Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA).

  Professor Greg Brooks, University of Sheffield.

  Tom Burkard, Promethean Trust.

  Professor Brian Byrne, University of New England.

  Mary Charlton, Tracks Literacy.

  Professor Margaret Clark, University of Birmingham.

  Ian Coates, former Head of SEN and disability division, DfES.

  Kevan Collins, former Director, Primary National Strategy.

  Felicity Craig.

  Shirley Cramer, Chief Executive, Dyslexia Institute.

  Kate Daly, adviser, Minority Ethnic Achievement Unit, DfES.

  Edward Davey MP.

  Alan Davies, THRASS.

  Professor Henrietta Dombey, University of Brighton.

  Marion Dowling.

  Nick Gibb MP.

  Professor Usha Goswami, University of Cambridge.

  Marlynne Grant, Educational psychologist, South Gloucestershire LA.

  Jean Gross, Every Child A Reader.

  Kate Gooding, Early Childhood Forum (ECF).

  Sue Hackman, chief adviser to ministers on school standards, DfES.

  Professor Kathy Hall, Open University.

  Diana Hatchett, Primary National Strategy.

  Debbie Hepplewhite, Reading Reform Foundation.

  Sue Horner, QCA.

  Jane Hurry, University of London, Institute of Education.

  Laura Huxford.

  Julie Jennings, ECF.

  Professor Rhona Johnston, University of Hull.

  Lesley Kelly, Cambridgeshire LA.

  Penny Kenway, Islington LA.

  Julie Lawes, Catch Up.

  Sue Lloyd and Chris Jolly, Jolly Phonics.

  Ruth Miskin, ReadWriteInc.

  Sue Nally, Warwickshire LA.

  Angie Nicholas, Dyslexia Institute.

  Joan Norris, ECF.

  Wendy Pemberton, Primary National Strategy.

  Sue Pidgeon, Primary National Strategy.

  Dee Reid, Catch Up.

  Eva Retkin.

  Dilwen Roberts, Merton LA.

  Rosie Roberts.

  Cheryl Robinson, Bedfordshire LA.

  Lindsey Rousseau, South East Region Special Educational Needs Partnership.

  Conor Ryan.

  Professor Pam Sammons, University of Nottingham.

  Peter Saugman and Bruce Robinson, Mindweavers.

  Professor Margaret Snowling, University of York.

  Professor Jonathan Solity, University of Warwick.

  Lesley Staggs, Primary National Strategy.

  Professor Rhona Stainthorp, University of London, Institute of Education.

  John Stannard.

  Arthur Staples, LexiaUK.

  Professor Morag Stuart, University of London, Institute of Education.

  Professor Kathy Sylva, University of Oxford.

  Ralph Tabberer, Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA).

  Jude Thompson, Headteacher, Dorton House School.

  Janet Townend, Dyslexia Institute.

  Gail Treml, SEN professional adviser, DfES.

  Paul Wagstaff, Primary National Strategy.

  Trudy Wainwright, St Michael's Primary School, South Gloucestershire LA.

  Tina Wakefield, British Association of Teachers of the Deaf.

  Mick Waters, QCA.

  Joyce Watson, University of St. Andrew's.

  Lyn and Mark Wendon, Letterland.

  Caroline Webber, Medway LA.

  Rose Woods, Helen Arkell Dyslexia Centre.


  Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL).

  Basic Skills Agency.

  British Association for Early Childhood Education.

  Dyslexia Institute.

  Early Education Advisory Group.

  Educational Publishers Council.


  I CAN.

  National Association for Language Development in the Curriculum (NALDIC).

  National Association for the Teaching of English (NATE) .

  National Association of Education Inspectors, Advisers and Consultants.

  National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT).

  National Association of Primary Education (NAPE).

  National Governors' Association.

  National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT).

  National Childminding Association (NCMA).

  National Children's Bureau.

  National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations (NCPT).

  National Family and Parenting Institute (NFPI).

  National Literacy Trust.

  National Union of Teachers (NUT).

  Parent Education and Support Forum (PESF).

  Peers Early Education Partnership (PEEP).

  Pre-School Learning Alliance (PLA).

  Primary Umbrella Group.

  Reading Recovery National Network.

  Renaissance Learning.


  United Kingdom Literacy Association (UKLA).

  Volunteer Reading Help.

  Xtraordinary People.


  In addition, oral representations were taken from members of the Education and Skills Committee on 30 January, 2006.


  In Scotland, members of the review took evidence from the Scottish Executive Education Department, members of Clackmannanshire council, headteachers and teachers of Clackmannanshire primary schools.

  In England, in addition to the oral evidence listed, evidence was drawn from visits to schools and training events, as well as discussions with practitioners during those events. Of the schools visited by HMI, 17 of them included nursery-aged pupils (aged 3-4).

  Schools visited by Her Majesty's Inspectors (HMI).

  Andrews' Endowed Church of England Primary, Hampshire LA.

  Barlows Primary, Liverpool, Liverpool LA.

  Blue Coat C of E Aided Infants, Walsall, Walsall LA.

  Bonner Primary, London, Tower Hamlets LA.

  Brooklands Primary, London, Greenwich LA.

  Byron Primary, Bradford, Bradford LA.

  Christ the King RC Primary, London, Islington LA.

  Cobholm First School, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk LA.

  Coppice Infant and Nursery School, Oldham, Oldham LA.

  Elmhurst Primary, London, Newham LA.

  Heaton Primary, Bradford, Bradford LA.

  Holy Family Catholic Primary, Coventry, Coventry LA.

  Kings Hedges Primary, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire LA.

  Lostwithiel Primary, Lostwithiel, Cornwall LA.

  St Michael's C of E Primary, Bristol, South Gloucestershire LA.

  St Sebastian's Catholic Primary School and Nursery, Liverpool, Liverpool LA.

  Stoughton Infants, Guildford, Surrey LA.

  Swaythling Primary, Southampton, Southampton LA.

  Thelwall Community Infant School, Warrington, Warrington LA.

  Tyldesley Primary, Manchester, Wigan LA.

  Victoria Infants, Workington, Cumbria LA.

  Victoria Road Primary, Plymouth, Plymouth LA.

  William Lilley Infant and Nursery, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire LA.

  Woodberry Down Primary, London, Hackney LA.

Other schools visited by members of the review team

  Greatwood Community Primary, Skipton, North Yorkshire LA.

  Ings Community Primary and Nursery, Skipton, North Yorkshire LA.

  Lyndhurst Primary, London, Southwark LA.

  Millfield Preparatory School, Glastonbury.

  Oliver Goldsmith Primary, London, Brent LA.

  Snowsfields Primary School incorporating the Tim Jewell Unit for Children with Autism, London, Southwark LA.

  Walnut Tree Walk School, London, Lambeth LA.

Training observed and conferences attended

  "ReadWriteInc"—training: 5 and 6 September 2005.

  Amy Johnson Primary School, Sutton LA.

  "ReadWriteInc"—training: 16 September 2005.

  Vermont School, Southampton, Hampshire LA.

  "The Death of Dyslexia?"—conference: 21 October 2005.

  The Friends House, London.

  "Playing with sounds"—training: 8 November 2005.

  Cambridge Professional Development Centre, Cambridgeshire LA.

  Early Reading Development Pilot—feedback conference for pilot LAs: 15 December 2005 Marlborough Hotel, London.

  Reading Recovery—training: 24 January 2006.

  Woodlane High School, London, Hammersmith and Fulham LA.

Written evidence

  Evidence was also drawn from sources of published information, notably:

    —    the House of Commons Education and Skills Committee, particularly the report Teaching children to read;

    —    reports and data from Ofsted, in particular from evaluations of the National Literacy Strategy, the Primary National Strategy, the teaching of English and initial teacher training;

    —  reports and papers from the other bodies, including the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, the Teacher Development and Training Agency for Schools and the Basic Skills Agency;

    —    reports and papers from researchers from academic establishments, professional associations, and professionals working in the field of early reading and other aspects of literacy from both the United Kingdom and internationally;

    —    materials and guidance for practitioners and teachers on supporting literacy and reading development for 0-3, the Foundation Stage, and Key Stages 1 and 2 produced by the DfES and the Primary National Strategy;

    —    teaching materials and guidance produced by providers of commercial and voluntary reading schemes;

    —    analysis by the DfES of national test results for reading and writing at Key Stage 1 and for English at Key Stage 2.

  Further evidence was drawn from over 300 letters and submissions to the review, including some from those who also provided oral evidence.

115   This aims to create a single, coherent framework for children's care, learning and development from birth until the end of August following a child's fifth birthday. Back

116   House of Commons Education and Skills Committee, Teaching Children to Read: session, 30 January 2006. Back

117   59 Round 1 "Trailblazer" programmes (announced November 1998); Round 2-69 programmes (November 1999); Round 3-64 programmes (July 2000); Round 4-66 programmes (January 2001). Back

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