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New EEF study of Children's University

We're looking for 150 primary schools to get involved

In 2017, the Education Endowment Foundation published an efficacy study of Children’s University which showed a direct link between participation in Children’s University and increased achievement in reading and Maths.

Children’s University are now looking for 150 schools to take part in a new study to see if these results are evident at scale. This is a two year programme for Years 5 through to Year 6.

Recruitment for this trial will run from November 2020 to March 2021 with activity due to start in September 2021, for the 2021 Year 5 cohort.

For further information please email:

Watch this video for more information

  • Children’s University is a programme that aims to improve the aspirations and attainment of pupils by encouraging, tracking and celebrating participation in learning activities beyond the normal school day.
  • Local Children’s University partners support schools to provide a range of learning opportunities, such as after-school clubs, projects and enrichment activities, and work with local destinations and learning providers such as libraries, sports clubs, historic centres, museums, or anywhere that offers structured learning activities for children.
  • Pupils use a ‘Passport to Learning’ and an online platform to record participation in these activities and these are rewarded by the collection of credits, certificates and graduations.
  • In 2017, the EEF published an efficacy study of Children’s University which showed a direct link between participation in Children’s University and increased achievement in reading and Maths. Children in Children’s University schools made two additional months’ progress in reading and maths compared to children in the other schools (control group).
  • Having gone on to name Children’s University a ‘Promising Project’ in 2018, the EEF are now committed to running a larger scale effectiveness trial of Children’s University to see if such positive results are evident at scale.
  • Working with the National Foundation for Education Research (NFER) and EEF, Children’s University is now looking to recruit 150 new primary schools to this new EEF study.
  • This new effectiveness study of Children’s University is set to run from September 2020 to July 2022, with publication in 2023.
  • It will be a randomised controlled trial involving 150 new schools; 75 schools will be randomly allocated to the control group (i.e. normal teaching and learning practice, not receiving any intervention) and the other 75 will be the intervention group, receiving Children’s University.
  • Intervention schools will run Children’s University for 2 years. The study will focus on one cohort of volunteer students from each school for two years. Pupils will have the opportunity to volunteer towards the end of the summer term 2020 while still in Year 4 and, if their school is allocated to the intervention group, their participation in Children’s University will be monitored during their time in Years 5 and 6.

We are looking for schools that

  • have not run Children’s University in their schools in the past 3 years
  • are keen to be part of an EEF study and understand that they may be allocated to either the intervention group (to receive Children’s University) or the control group (and not receive Children’s University)
  • are in areas covered by existing local Children’s Universities. These areas are:
    • Cheshire East
    • Cheshire West
    • Devon and Cornwall
    • East London
    • Essex
    • Sheffield
    • Tameside
    • Trafford
    • Westminster
    • Wirral
    • Wolverhampton
  • The study’s primary outcomes will be attainment in maths and reading, as measured by Key Stage (KS) 2 SATs results.
  • There will also be secondary outcomes measured by a pupil survey produced by the NFER. Pupils will fill in this survey twice- Summer term 2020 and Summer term 2022. This will be looking at pupils’
    • increased motivation to learn in and beyond the classroom;
    • development of a broad range of essential skills, and;
    • growth in confidence and self-belief.
  • This study is a randomised control trial – this means that of the 150 schools that sign up, only 75 will receive Children’s University and the other 75 will not. A financial contribution of £500 will be made to schools in the control group on completion of evaluation activities.
  • Schools signing up to this trial must be willing to be allocated to either group. Once schools are signed up, they will be ‘randomised’ before September 2020.

All schools:

  • will need to sign up by April 2020.
  • will be expected to encourage children receiving FSM to volunteer to take part
  • will be expected to complete evaluation activities such as sharing pupil administrative data, completing evaluation proformas and pupil and staff surveys.

Schools that are randomly allocated to the intervention group (i.e. receiving Children’s University) will be expected to:

  • make a £300 contribution to the cost of the programme
  • allocate a school-coordinator to manage Children’s University for 2 years
  • participate in initial local staff training with Children’s University Trust
  • participate in in-school staff training from their local Children’s University Manager each year
  • allow the Children’s University Manager to promote Children’s University via an in-school assembly/information session each year for volunteer pupils
  • encourage FSM children to volunteer for the intervention and ensure all children taking part are encouraged and able to access in-school activities, by
    • supporting participating pupils to attend the Children’s University graduation event at the end of each year
    • encouraging pupils to log activity on Children’s University Online and in their passports
    • ensuring Children’s University Online is kept up to date
    • encouraging variety and quantity of participation, including in school time e.g. lunchtime, and supporting students to attend validated external activities
  • validate all relevant school activities (support and training will be provided)
  • provide information about extra-curricular activities to participating pupils and their parents

Schools that are randomly allocated to the control group (i.e. not receiving Children’s University will:

  • receive £500 gesture of appreciation payable on completion of all evaluation activities
  • not be able to sign up to Children’s University outside of the study until after June 2022

All data gathered during the trial will be held in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018 and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) 2016/679 and will be treated in the strictest confidence by NFER and Children’s University Trust. All personal data will be shared via an online secure data portal. The evaluation report will be published on the EEF website and the findings may also be disseminated at educational research conferences and in academic or professional journals. No school, teacher or pupil will be named in any report arising from this work.


A Privacy Notice for the study will be available here by January 24th

To speak to Children’s University about participating or find out more about what could be involved, email

An overview for schools is available to download. 

Click here to download it