The Craft of Writing Randomised Controlled Trial Study


This project is exploring how the opportunity for teachers to work with professional writers might change their understanding of being a writer, how they teach writing, and improve outcomes in writing for the children they teach.  Its impact will be evaluated by comparing it with the “teaching as usual” approach using a randomised controlled trial (RCT).  During this project, you will be contacted by both the Project Team (University of Exeter, Open University and Arvon), who are responsible for developing and supporting the new teaching approach, and by the Evaluation Team (University College London [UCL] and Behavioural Insights Team [BIT]), who are carrying out an independent evaluation of its effectiveness.

This memorandum of understanding (MoU) explains what your school’s participation in the study will entail. 

In order to formalise your consent to participate, please choose the relevant button above

Randomised Controlled Trial (June 2018 - July 2019)

The trial will involve your school being randomly assigned either to participate in the Craft of Writing intervention (the intervention group) or to continue with your normal teaching approach (the comparison group). Teachers in the intervention group will attend two 3 day residentials and 3 CPD days across the year, and to teach writing drawing on the learning from the residentials and CPD input. Teachers in the Comparison group will teach writing as they normally do.  Schools in the intervention group will be asked to pay £500 to participate as a partial contribution to the costs of the residentials and CPD days, and will receive a minimum of £500 towards supply costs. Schools in the comparison group will receive a £500 payment, which can be used towards the cost of attending an Arvon Teachers as Writers residential after the project has ended, if desired.

The following information and evaluation data will be required by the Evaluation and Project teams:

Prior to randomisation

Schools will:

  • Provide school URN and LAESTAB number.
  • Provide contact details of the Year 5 Project Teacher (valid email address and telephone number) to the  Project Team for use by both the Project Team and the Evaluation team.
  • Provide, via the means specified by the evaluation team, pupil names, DOB and Unique Pupil Numbers (UPNs) of the Year 5 Project Class, along with details of any setting or streaming by attainment, to the Evaluation Team by the end of March 2018.
  • Follow the secure procedures requested by Evaluation team to allow parents to opt their pupils out of the evaluation part of this research.

During the evaluation

Participating teachers will:

  • Update UPNs and pupil names of Year 5 Project Class by the end of September 2018.
  • Facilitate visits by the Project Team and/or the Evaluation Team to gather data on the implementation of the intervention or on routine teaching (for example, through observations or interviews etc).
  • Facilitate an-end-of project written assessment which will be administered by the Evaluation Team.

Use of Data

All pupil data will be treated with the strictest confidence and will be stored in accordance with the Data Protection Act (1998) and with the forthcoming General Data Protection Regulation. Named data will be matched with the National Pupil Database using pupils’ UPNs by the Evaluation Team and shared (anonymously) with the Education Endowment Foundation.  All results will be anonymised so that no schools will be identifiable in the report or dissemination of any results. For the purpose of research, the pupil data will be linked with information from the National Pupil Database held by the Department for Education, other official records, and shared with Exeter University, Open University, the Department for Education, EEF, EEF’s data contractor FFT Education and in an anonymised form to the UK Data Archive and for research purposes. Confidentiality will be maintained at all times. 

Requirements for Schools

  • The school is not participating in another research project or evaluation that would interfere with development and evaluation of the above approach in Year 5 writing.
  • The Year 5 Project Teacher will be working with a Year 5 class in the academic year 2018-2019.
  • Intervention group teachers will attend the two residentials and the three CPD days.
  • The school will deliver letters to parents giving them information about the study and an opportunity to opt their child out of the data gathering process. They will inform the Evaluation Team of any responses arising.
  • The school will provide data requested to the Project Team and the Evaluation Team as detailed above.
  • The school will permit the publication of anonymised data collected and its use in presentations.
  • Teachers will, at the earliest opportunity, notify the Project Team if there are support or operational issues which could affect their participation.
  • Teachers will complete a survey for each child in their class at the beginning and end of the study.
  • If the school has to withdraw from the project for operational or other unavoidable reasons, it will notify the UCL/BIT Evaluation Team straight away and, wherever possible, still provide test data for the project. 

Responsibilities of the Project Team:

  • Provide the Arvon residentials and 3 CPD days
  • Act as the first point of contact for any questions about the project
  • Provide on-going support to the school
  • Provide information sheets for parents
  • Collect Year 5 Project Teacher contact names and email details.
  • Disseminate the research findings

Responsibilities of the Evaluation Team:

  • Conduct the random allocation
  • Work with the project team and schools to collect class and pupil level data (including name, date of birth, UPN)
  • Collect data about how the schools are implementing the intervention, or teaching as usual (control groups)
  • Request NPD data using pupil details
  • Administer the writing assessment
  • Analyse the data from the project
  • Disseminate the research findings 

In order to formalise your consent to participate, please click on the relevant link below (make sure you choose the right button for your role!).