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The Discovery Children’s Story Centre Summer Writing programme: a randomised controlled trial

To address a gap in evidence, we undertook a randomised controlled trial to assess the impact of a literacy summer school on reading and writing skills of year 6 to 7 pupils. There was no evidence of a difference in outcome between the intervention and control group pupils.

Why did we do this research?

Despite substantial investment in the provision of summer school programmes to ease pupils’ transition from primary to secondary schools, rigorously designed UK-based evaluations of 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. To address this gap we planned a randomised controlled trial to evaluate the effect of a literacy summer school on pupils’ reading and writing skills.

What did we do?

In our randomised controlled trial, 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.

Who was involved?

Pupils 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.

What did we find?

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.

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.


Jefferson L,  Hannah Buckley H, Hannah Ainsworth H, et al. (2015) 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. The Online Educational Research Journal.

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Department of Health Sciences, University of York, York, UK


  • Carole Torgerson
  • Clare Heaps

School of Education, Durham University, Durham, UK




The research was commissioned by the Education Endowment Foundation. The project was started in January 2013 and completed in December 2013.

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