This project is designed to improve the educational provision in primary schools across a whole local government council through peer learning in reading and mathematics. Additionally, the project will explore the practicality and utility of such methods to support primary-secondary transition. Rigorous evaluations have already shown peer learning to be effective in many situations, but this project will be the first to establish and evaluate large-scale systematic implementation.
Download the "Sharing good practice" document here (PDF Format).
In developing this proposal, teams from the Centre for Peer Learning (CPL) at Dundee University's Faculty of Education & Social Work and at the Curriculum Evaluation and Management (CEM) Centre at Durham University looked at many local authorities in both England and Scotland and found that Fife is ideal. The CPL's expertise in peer learning is close by, with methods already established and well researched. Additionally, the council use the CEM Centre's monitoring tools which generate data at key intervals and provide initial and outcome measures essential in determining the impact of the project.
Through agreement the project involves most if not all primary schools and one or more secondary schools in Fife. The council is very committed to the project and take-up is high. Schools and classes are randomly assigned to intervention conditions. Sometimes older children tutor younger children across year groups and sometimes pupils tutor others of the same age within year groups. The peer learning programmes focus on reading and mathematics or both. Overall the research design investigates various combinations and intensities of peer learning (see Table 1 below) and gives a unique opportunity to provide solid evidence for which strategies are most effective in which contexts. Data is collected before, during and after the peer learning programmes - on academic progress in core skills, as well as motivation and attitudes (self-confidence and aspiration levels as well as perception of school and subjects), transferable social and communication skills, and the interaction involved during the tutoring. The cost-effectiveness of the initiative across a range of situations will be assessed.
Table 1: Skill/curriculum areas, types of peer tutoring, and intensity of intervention
Read more about the development of the project here.
The principal expected outcome of the project is an increase in educational achievement. This impact will be measured in terms of Effect Size, which can be converted into other metrics where necessary. In addition to raising standards of educational achievement, as a result of this project there will be a framework in place that shows a council-wide way of working. The teachers are also expected to have enhanced skills in the co-ordination of teaching through peer learning and an additional perspective on assessment for learning. The council will develop enhanced skills in operating and evaluating large-scale research. This will yield a model for providing managers with evidence from which they can make informed decisions.
You can read the 'Conclusion of the Project' here.
A Knowledge Transfer Partnership bid has been awarded (involving joint funding from the Economic and Social Research Council and Fife) for three graduate Associates, working on the project under the guidance of the two universities. Two work from Dundee (on the continuing professional development and data-gathering in Fife) and one from Durham (on data analysis and the report production), and all spend a majority of their time working with schools and the council. These Associates might subsequently become highly skilled employees of the council. Whilst all primary schools in Fife already use PIPS assessments and several use MidYIS, there is a need for additional assessments. Data on P7 pupils in November is collected using the current PIPS assessment and a new re-administration of an extended version of this assessment is to be done at the end of the P7 year. Pupils in secondary school can be assessed at the end of S1 (with an extended version of the PIPS P7 assessment) and S2 (with a new assessment developed specifically for the end of the 5-14 phase). Attitudinal data can also be collected from the Extended MidYIS tests during S1. An evaluation of the degree of implementation of the peer learning strategies will also be undertaken, and instruments are already available for that purpose.
This project was funded by the Knowledge Transfer Partnership, which included funding from Fife Council. Fife Council personnel played a crucial part in the success of this project. For details of the project team, click here.
(Links are taken to other websites)
Online maths revision and problem solving activities for children can be found here.
For ready made maths problems, try here.
Advice on designing problem solving activities can be found here.
A video on problem solving from a rural primary school can be viewed here.