DfE: cost and effectiveness of intervention in schools

The Department for Education has published a new research paper – ‘Formal school interventions in England: cost and effectiveness’ – following a recommendation by the Public Accounts Committee in January 2015.

The study looked at three types of formal intervention: becoming a sponsored academy, appointing an interim executive board (IEB), and issuing a local authority warning notice.

Sponsored academies:

  • this was the highest cost intervention (though the DfE point out that it is a permanent, rather than temporary measure, and therefore higher cost can be expected), though the average cost has fallen over time
  • the report states that improvements observed are more persistent than those from other types of intervention
  • improvements in attainment were greater than the average state-funded school
  • according to the report, improvements in attainment were also greater than similar schools, although the difference between this group and the sponsored academies was less pronounced

Interim executive boards (IEBs):

  • the average cost is difficult to establish and is estimated as being between £45,000 and £500,000 for the period the IEB is in place (between 6 months and 2 years)
  • IEBs tend to be a more effective intervention in primary schools than secondary schools
  • improvements in attainment for primary schools that had an IEB were larger than for similar schools but the difference was not significant
  • the small number schools that have had IEBs makes it difficult to draw conclusions about their effectiveness

Warning notices:

  • this is a low cost intervention (between £150 and £370 over a few weeks) though there are often subsequent costs of improvement activity arising from the warning notices
  • schools that received warning notices did improve compared to the average school and to similar schools
  • improvement was not as persistent as for other interventions

The DfE concluded that it is not possible to fairly compare the cost-effectiveness of the different forms of intervention: “Different interventions suit different schools in different circumstances”.

Author: Department for Education
Published: 10/02/2017, by Sam Henson
Last Updated: 05/09/2018, by Tom Fellows