See the evidence

Our research journey

The TDTScience approach was based on original research funded by the Primary Science Teaching Trust and carried out by Helen Wilson, Jenny Mant and David Coates from Oxford Brookes University (OBU) in 2002-04. Helen Wilson co-developed the TDTScience training programme with Bridget Holligan from Science Oxford thanks to funding from the Education Endowment Foundation for a Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT) in 2013-15. This was an ‘efficacy trial’ designed to find out if an intervention is effective and the research was carried out by the University of York. This compared the attainment and attitudes of Year 5 children whose teachers had attended a TDTScience course delivered by Bridget and Helen, with those whose teachers had not.

Bridget Holligan

Helen Wilson

Positive impact: efficacy trial success

The EEF efficacy trial showed that, on average, children taught by the TDTScience-trained teachers made three additional months’ progress in science, with a particularly positive effect for girls and for children with low prior attainment (four months’ progress). TDTScience also had a significant positive impact on children’s attitudes to science and there were indications that the approach was particularly beneficial for children eligible for free school meals (5 months’ progress). There is more information about the outcomes of this trial on the EEF website here. A research paper about the impact of TDTScience was published in the International Journal of Science Education in 2020 and can be accessed here. TDTScience strategies are included in the EEF’s 2023 Improving Primary Science guidance report.

“It’s fantastic when our evaluations produce solid evidence that a particular approach has a positive impact on attainment. It’s especially rewarding when they boost children’s attitudes towards learning too. But the reality of robust educational research is that these results are the exception and not the rule.”

Sir Kevan Collins, EEF Chief Executive Officer 2011-19 [talking about TDTScience]

Maintaining impact at scale: 2016-18

Following the efficacy trial success, the EEF funded a larger RCT of TDTScience called an ‘effectiveness trial’ from 2016-18. This was designed to explore whether the impact of TDTScience on children could be replicated at scale, via a ‘train the trainer’ model in seven regions of England. 

Over 9000 children and 380 teachers in 205 schools across England participated and the research was carried out by the American Institutes for Research (AIR). The findings showed that, on average, children’s interest in, and self-efficacy towards, science increased. There was a small impact on attainment among children eligible for school meals although this study found that there was no apparent impact on attainment across the whole sample. More information about this research can be found on the EEF website here.

“The available evidence indicates that the programme can be implemented at scale through a train-the-trainers model, that it is valued by teachers exposed to the programme, and it changes their teaching practices in a manner consistent with the hypothesis.”

EEF Report, 2018

A ‘promising project’: 2021-24

Although the first EEF effectiveness trial of TDTScience showed only partial impact at scale, the programme remained a ‘promising project’ for the EEF and in 2021 a re-effectiveness trial was begun with 180 schools to explore how the ‘train-the-trainer’ model could be improved to ensure that the full impact of the original efficacy trial could be replicated at scale. The research is being carried out by the York Trials Unit from the University of York and the first report will be published by the EEF in September 2024.