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02 February 2023

Words for All - evaluation of literacy improvement programme

Unit researchers, Mary Baginsky and Carl Purcell, are co-authors of What Works report

Work books on a school desk

The Evaluation of Words for All was published by the What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care in December 2022. Words for All is a training programme developed by the organisation Whole Education that aims to support schools to develop literacy improvement programmes targeted at pupils who may need additional support.

The data from an earlier evaluation of the Vocabulary Enrichment Full Programme (VEFP) were examined to explore any impact on a subgroup of young people with experience of social care compared with those without that experience. Elements of (VEFP) showed ‘signs of potential’ and was developed into the Words for All programme.

A randomised control trial (RCT) was set-up to measure the impact of this intervention on pupils who had, or had previously had, a social worker. An implementation and process evaluation and a cost evaluation ran alongside this.

In the context of COVID-19 restrictions participation in the trial was very much lower than anticipated and, in addition, not all schools complied with the requirements of the trial. The trial showed no statistically significant impact on pupil outcomes. The low level of participation, of course, had implications for the costs study. However the implementation and process evaluation produced important messages for how to introduce, support and judge effectiveness of such a programme.

This publication

Àvila, D., Baginsky, M., Healey, A., Hume, S., McGannon, G., Nwosu, C., and Purcell, C. (2022) Evaluation of Words for All, London: What Works for Children’s Social Care.

In this story

Mary Baginsky

Reader in Social Care

Carl Purcell

Research Fellow