Research Learning Communities: Pilot Evaluation

WWCSC and Ipsos MORI are conducting a pilot evaluation of Research Learning Communities, delivered by Durham University, which aims to improve the Literacy and Mathematics outcomes of Children in Need (CiN) and Looked After Children (LAC) in years 5 and 6.


Pilot / In progress

Estimated completion

Spring 2023



Delivered by

School of Education, Durham University

Evaluated by

Ipsos MORI

Research Learning Communities (RLC) aims to improve the Literacy and Mathematics outcomes of CIN and LAC children by supporting Subject Leads, Designated Teachers and year 5 and 6 teachers in primary schools to further develop and implement research-informed teaching strategies. 

Originally trialled in some 55 primary schools by the EEF examining outcomes for all pupils, when the data was reanalysed by What Works for Children’s Social Care, it was identified as showing “signs of potential” for positive outcomes for children who have had a social worker. The RLC approach has now been adopted by a range of school communities across England, as well as in Boise, Idaho, Barcelona and in Malmo, Sweden.

The RLC programme will be developed and delivered by the School of Education in Durham University, between October 2021 and May 2022. Although the programme was previously delivered to schools and was evaluated, it is the first time that it will be focusing on supporting teachers to develop evidence-based teaching strategies specifically for CiN/LAC.

The programme will bring together primary Subject Leads and Designated Teachers in a series of 6 workshops, preceded by an introductory session, and closed by a final ‘moving forward’ session. These workshops will focus on raising their understanding and use of educational research in order to develop and implement new/adjust existing teaching strategies for CIN/LAC in their schools. Subject Leads and Designated Teachers are to champion evidence-informed teaching strategies and work with year 5 and 6 teachers in order to together develop and implement these new/adjusted strategies.

To evaluate the RLC programme, this study will conduct a mixed-methods pilot evaluation including pre and post questionnaires, case studies, observations, and interviews, along with a cost evaluation. The evaluation will take place between September 2021 and March 2023, with the final report due in spring 2023.

This evaluation was initially intended to be delivered as a randomised controlled trial (RCT), however due to challenges with recruitment, the study was amended to a pilot. The original trial protocol, published in October 2021, can be found in the appendices of the trial protocol.

  • Please find the protocol here