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Key features of ASDAN methodology noted in DfE report


The report released by the Department for Education earlier this month titled ‘Supporting the attainment of disadvantaged pupils: articulating success and good practice’ (National Foundation for Educational Research – McLeod, Sharp and Bernardinelli; Ask Research – Skipp; Durham University – Higgins, November 2015) identified a number of features shared by schools that had most successfully supported the attainment of disadvantaged pupils. 

While the successful strategies were often those found in the Sutton Trust-Education Endowment Fund (EEF) Teaching and Learning Toolkit, it is worth reiterating the importance of approaches that are often low cost and effective. Metacognitive approaches, independent learning and peer learning are central to the ASDAN methodology of plan-do-review, group and paired work and independent work on challenges.

Key findings: What are schools doing to improve the performance of disadvantaged pupils?

The survey found that schools had used a large number of strategies (on average 18 per school) in order to raise the attainment of disadvantaged pupils since 2011. The most popular strategies –those that schools considered to be the most effective – focused on teaching and learning, especially: paired or small group additional teaching, improving feedback and one-to-one tuition. These strategies are all supported by evidence of effectiveness in the Sutton Trust-EEF Teaching and Learning Toolkit.

Most schools (93.1 per cent) had received support from governors for their plans to improve disadvantaged pupils’ performance and over half (54.2 per cent) had received such support from local authorities.

Although schools tended to be using similar strategies, more successful schools had introduced the strategy they identified as their most effective strategy earlier than less successful schools (before 2011, though they were still using it in 2014). Further analysis found that schools were using certain groups of strategies overall and that these were related to success in raising the attainment of disadvantaged pupils.

  • More successful schools were more likely to be using metacognitive/independent learning and peer learning strategies (although this relationship was only statistically significant in secondary schools). Metacognitive and peer learning strategies have independent evidence of effectiveness (see the Sutton Trust-EEF Teaching and Learning Toolkit).

The research found some statistically significant relationships between primary schools with less success in raising the attainment of disadvantaged pupils and the strategies they adopted.

  • Less successful primary schools were more likely to be using strategies to improve attendance, behaviour or pupil engagement in the curriculum, or to have made improvements to the classroom/school environment.
  • Less successful primary schools more likely to: employ additional teaching assistants (TAs) or increase TA hours to work specifically with disadvantaged pupils; introduce new literacy and numeracy programmes; and use paired/small group additional teaching.

View the full report: ‘Supporting the attainment of disadvantaged pupils: articulating success and good practice’.