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Volume 496: debated on Thursday 16 July 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families with reference to paragraph 2.25, page 32 of his Department’s publication, “Your child, your schools, our future”, what is the research evidence referred to. (286886)

The following is a summary of the research evidence referred to in the first sentence of paragraph 2.25 of “Your child, your schools, our future, building a 21st century schools system”:

Summary of research evidence on the importance of high quality teaching and teachers:

1. Having high quality teachers and teaching is essential to the achievement of whole-school success. Improvements in teaching have been facilitated by organisational factors, for example, careful recruitment, quality assurance schemes, support for teachers to focus on teaching and sharing of good practice (Rudd et al., 2002).

2. Barber and Mourshed (2007) at McKinsey and Company, argued that the biggest driver of variation in pupil learning is teacher effectiveness and present a strong argument for focusing on recruiting high quality teachers in order to raise attainment of pupils. In particular, they refer to a US study by Sanders and Rivers (1996) that showed that two average eight-year-old pupils placed with different teachers diverged in their performance by more than 50 percentile points within three years. However, this study needs to be treated with caution as the research was conducted in a small number of schools.

3. Slater et al. (2009) estimated the effect of individual teachers on pupil outcomes, and the variability of teacher quality, which they refer to as teacher’s impact on test scores. They used a unique primary dataset linking over 7,000 pupils, their exam results and prior attainment to the individual teachers who taught them. They found that a high quality teacher (75th percentile) compared to a low quality teacher (25th percentile) can add 0.425 of a GCSE point per subject to a given pupil, or 25 per cent. of the standard deviation of GCSE points. This further demonstrates the importance of having effective teachers.

Summary of research evidence suggesting that pupils from deprived backgrounds are less likely to experience good quality teaching:

1. There is evidence to suggest that pupils from deprived backgrounds may be less likely to experience good quality teaching. Sammons et al. (2006), in an analysis of teaching practice in 125 year 5 classes, found that the quality of teaching tended to be poorer in schools with higher levels of pupils eligible for free school meals. Differences were apparent in areas such as basic skills development, depth of subject knowledge, social support for learning, pupil engagement and classroom routines. Cabinet Office (2008a) cited evidence that teachers in schools with more than 20 per cent. FSM eligibility were more likely to be rated worse in their teaching, and less likely to have come from an outstanding teacher training institution. Furthermore, Thrupp and Lupton (2006) reported that unchallenging work was evident among schools with deprived intakes.

2. Also, secondary schools with higher proportions of pupils eligible for FSM have, on average, teachers with lower levels of qualifications than other schools. Charles et al. (2007) found that schools in the higher FSM quintiles had fewer teachers with degrees in the subject they taught, compared with schools in the lower FSM quintiles. This was true for most subjects analysed, with the exception of ICT and design and technology, in which teacher qualifications were higher in schools with higher proportions of FSM.


Barber, M. and Mourshed, M. (2007). “How the worlds best performing school systems come out on top”. McKinsey and Company.

Cabinet Office (2008a). “Getting on, getting ahead. A discussion paper: analysing the trends and drivers of social mobility”.

Charles, M., Marsh, A., Milne, A., Morris, C., Scott, E. and Shamsan, Y. (2007). “Secondary School Curriculum and Staffing Survey 2007”. DCSF RR026.

Rudd, P., Aiston, S., Davies, D., Rickinson, M. and Dartnall, L. (2002). “Performance gains in Specialist Schools: What makes the difference?” NFER.

Sammons, P., Taggart, B., Siraj-Blatchford, I., Sylva, K., Melhuish, E., Barreau, S. and Manni, L. (2006). “EPPE: Summary report: variations in Teacher and Pupil Behaviours in Year 5 Classes”. DfES RR817.

Slater, H., Davies, N. and Burgess, S. (2009). “Do teachers matter? Measuring teacher effectiveness in England”. Centre for Market and Public Organisations (CMPO), Working Paper 09/212.

Thrupp, M. and Lupton, R. (2006). Taking school contexts more seriously: the social justice challenge. “British Journal of Educational Studies”, 54(3), 308-328.