New EEF research shows teachers believe English Mastery increases student skills

63% of teachers said engagement in English lessons improved with English Mastery

According to a new report by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), teachers who delivered the English Mastery Key Stage 3 programme – which provides teachers with resources and tools to support their practice – reported that it reduced their workload and improved their pupil’s literacy skills and engagement.

The English Mastery is a knowledge-rich, curriculum and teacher development programme delivered by Ark Curriculum Plus – an education charity based in the UK which works to improve educational achievement.

Commissioned by the EEF and led by NatCen Social Research, the research focused on the implementation of the programme and found that:

  • 81% of teachers would recommend the programme to other schools
  • 84% felt satisfied with the training and support
  • 80% said it reduced their workload with planning and marking


Teachers felt English Mastery had supported their students to improve in several areas compared with previous pupil cohorts:

  • 75% teachers said overall progress improved
  • 68% teachers said writing skills improved
  • 63% teachers said engagement in English lessons improved
  • 63% teachers said reading skills
  • 74% teachers said grammar skills


Teachers reported that the programme supported them to refine their practice:

  • 61% said their skills in teaching literary classics had improved
  • 57% said their teaching of Key Stage 3 English had improved


The project began in September 2019 and finished in July 2021. A total of 97 schools across England were recruited, with 776 teachers and 17,460 students participating. The original aim of the research was to assess the impact of a knowledge-rich curriculum on student outcomes in English across Years 7 and 8, as well as considering whether a centralised, coherent curriculum could reduce teacher workload.

However, the project and its evaluation were affected by the 2020 school closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, so researchers could not assess the impact and results focused on implementation and process.

The research showed that the programme supported home learning during COVID-19, with 28 out of 30 schools using English Mastery to support home learning.

With promising findings, the EEF has reselected English Mastery to undertake a second randomised controlled trial with funding via the DfE Accelerator Fund. The trial will see 120 schools nationally adopt research-informed practices to improve educational outcomes.

Nick Wallace, Head of Secondary English, Ark Curriculum Plus, said: “I am enormously proud of the findings from this report. It is wonderful to know that teachers believe that English Mastery is having an impact on their students’ attainment and enjoyment of English. I’m especially pleased to see that teachers feel that English Mastery supports their workload – an enormous achievement with the challenges facing the sector. We are excited to be working with the EEF again to further explore the impact English Mastery has on English teaching.”

Venessa Willms, Director of Education at Ark, added: “English Mastery is proving to have a significant impact, and I’m delighted that teachers have reported a positive effect on their workload. Throughout the trial and in our own experience across the network, teachers observed their students enjoying English more and saw improvements in their students’ writing. It is excellent to see Ark Curriculum Plus’s English Mastery programme making a difference for teachers across the country.”


You can read the full report hereThe English Mastery Evaluation report

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