Skip to content

Making the best use of TAs: Evaluating approaches to scaling up research use

Teaching assistants

Project team

Dr Bronwen Maxwell, Ben Willis, Dr Martin Culliney, Dr Mike Coldwell, Dr Janet Goepel, Anna Stevens, Sarah Reaney, Alison Glentworth

Project date


The EEF's pilot projects in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire were designed to improve the use of TAs in schools as well as learn about effective scale-up of research use

In 2015, the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) launched a national campaign to promote the use of research evidence on making the best use of Teaching Assistants (TAs) in schools, together with an evidence-based guidance report which included seven recommendations on best practice. The campaign comprised national activities that targeted all schools in England. Additionally, EEF launched pilot projects in South & West Yorkshire and in Lincolnshire to explore the effectiveness of different approaches to scaling up the use of the research.

Sheffield Institute of Education conducted evaluations of the two approaches:

  • A commissioned approach where advocacy providers delivered training and provided support to schools (South & West Yorkshire: 2015-16)
  • An embedded approach where EEF worked with key stakeholders to embed scale-up of the TA evidence in school improvement structures and processes and create a network of 'evidence-ready' schools (Lincolnshire: 2016-17).

Evaluation aims and methods

The theory-based, mixed-methods evaluations examined:

  • Evidence of promise - assessing the extent to which the deployment of TAs and classroom practices had become more aligned with the EEF guidance in participating schools compared to similar schools, as well as other intended outcomes. The plausibility of the 'theories of change' underpinning the approaches to scale-up was also explored.
  • Feasibility and the potential for further scale-up.
  • Factors that enhanced or impeded effective and sustainable scale-up of research use.

Data were collected through pre-campaign and post-campaign surveys, case studies, interviews, and analysis of management information data.

Visit the EEF's Making the Best Use of TAs project pages to find out more and to access the evaluation protocols.


Education Endowment Foundation


  • Final reports to be published in Autumn 2018.
  • Coldwell, M. and Maxwell, B. (under review) Using evidence-informed logic models to bridge methods in educational evaluation.
Share this page

Cancel event

Are you sure you want to cancel your place on Saturday 12 November?