A randomised controlled trial of a literacy-based summer school to improve the reading and writing skills of children transitioning from primary to secondary school

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Introduction – Despite substantial investment in the provision of summer school programmes to ease pupils’ transition from primary to secondary schools, rigorously designed United-Kingdom-based evaluations using randomised controlled trial designs to explore their effect on pupil attainment have not been undertaken. This may be particularly pertinent amongst children from disadvantaged backgrounds due to lower overall attainment and greater experiences of difficulties during this transition period. This randomised controlled trial aimed to address this gap in the literature by evaluating the effect of a literacy summer school on pupils’ reading and writing skills. Method – Pupils meeting the eligibility criteria for the study, and due to transition from year 6 to year 7 in 2013, were recruited through 29 primary schools in proximity to the Discover Children’s Story Centre in Stratford, London. Consenting pupils were individually randomised to receive the summer school intervention or to a ‘business as usual’ control group. The intervention was implemented over a four week period during July and August 2013. At the end of the intervention period all trial pupils were asked to complete the Progress in English 11 (Long Form) test developed by GL Assessment. Results – There was no evidence of a difference in outcome between the intervention and control group pupils; however, the conclusions that can be drawn from this study are limited due to the small sample size and problems with attrition. Conclusion – Further research is needed to explore the feasibility of conducting this type of evaluation using a larger sample size, as issues with attrition from the summer school and from testing need to be resolved.
Original languageEnglish
JournalOnline educational research journal
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Assessment and Evaluation
  • Educational Effectiveness

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