A Cluster Randomised Controlled Trial


Stephen Morris, Robert Wishart, Fatima Husain, Lydia Marshall, Martina Vojtkova


Background: A cluster randomised controlled trial was conducted to test whether the offer of Family Skills, a programme targeted at the parents of reception year (4–5 year-old) pupils with English as an Additional Language (EAL), raised attainment.

Purpose: There is little existing evidence of whether family literacy programmes delivered in school settings are effective in raising attainment among pupils with EAL in the English context. This study seeks to address this gap.

Programme description: Eleven two and a half hour sessions were delivered during the school day, by trained trainers, to the parents of pupils with EAL. Sessions aimed to enhance parents’ knowledge of effective literacy strategies.

Sample: In total, 115 primary schools in England were recruited to the study. Each school identified pupils in reception year that had EAL. The parents of these children were invited to take up the programme.

Design and methods: A two-arm parallel cluster randomised control trial was conducted, with schools randomised to intervention and control conditions. The primary outcome measure was literacy attainment. The evaluation also included a mixed methods process evaluation.

Results: The estimated effect size for the primary outcome based on adjusted intention-to-treat analysis, with a full set of covariates, was 0.03 (95% CI: −0.14 to 0.21). Not all parents invited to take up the intervention did so and it proved difficult to obtain a reliable measure of take-up.

Conclusions: Estimated effect sizes ranged from 0.13 in an unadjusted analysis to 0.03 in the full-adjusted analysis. Our results do not reach statistical significance at the 95% level. We discuss ways the intervention might be improved and address the issue of the low take-up of Family Skills.

Morris, S. P., Wishart, R., Husain, F., Marshall, L. and Vojtkova, M. (2019) Evaluating the effectiveness of a family literacy programme on the attainment of children with English as an additional language – a Cluster Randomised Controlled Trial, Educational Research http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00131881.2019.1657779