What impact did Oak have in 2022/23?
Research and Evaluation Manager
The last school year saw big changes for Oak National Academy. We became an independent public body focused on creating and supporting in-class teaching resources built around a high-quality curriculum.
However, one thing that has not changed is our unwavering commitment to measure our impact, understanding each year whether we are progressing towards our mission.
As a result, we have once again asked ImpactEd to independently assess the impact we had throughout the 2022/23 academic year. This independent evaluation explored and analysed three outcome areas in line with our Theory of Change: teachers, pupils, and the education sector.
Here are some key highlights from the full report.
How have teachers used Oak this school year?
Each week an average of 102k pupils and 30k teachers were using the site in the 22/23 school year.1 Based on Teacher Tapp’s reading, 25% of all teachers used our curriculum and resources in the past 6 months.3 Oak was used across all school types in England, but was more heavily used in secondary schools than primary schools (61.4% of secondary schools compared to 30.3% of primary). Teachers downloaded a total of 1.13m resources and 9.6m lessons were taken by pupils.2
The main reasons for using Oak remained lesson planning (37% of users), lesson delivery in the classroom (31%), with curriculum planning (27%) also scoring highly. A significant proportion of teachers found our resources helpful for setting cover lessons (27%) and setting work for absent pupils (27%), in alignment with our intention to stay a provisional backstop to minimise disruption.
In fact, we have seen major peaks in use on teacher strike days this year, with 15 times more lessons taken on strike days than on a standard day on average.4 Use of Oak as a professional development tool to support and develop knowledge of subject content was also mentioned by teachers, especially for non-specialists and for those supporting Early Career Teachers.
An experienced secondary school languages teacher turned to Oak to support her to deliver high-quality Latin grammar lessons. With the new GCSE focus on grammar, she felt that she was lacking inspiration for how to engage pupils with this element. She was “really inspired” by the way in which Oak delivered this element of the curriculum and her pupils “loved” the lessons and how they were delivered.
Impact on teacher workload and wellbeing
Creating teaching resources from scratch is time-consuming, and we aim to improve teachers’ workload with our high-quality, sequenced resources encompassing a broad spectrum of subjects. These give teachers a strong starting point and allow them to focus more on pupil-facing work.
40% of teachers who use our resources said that it had decreased their workload, with an average time saved of four hours per week. This is equivalent to four weeks across a school year. In qualitative research, teachers reported using the time they saved on feedback, assessment and supporting pupils directly instead.
Teachers who use Oak were also less likely to consider teacher workload a serious problem in their school than non-users. They were also more likely to report being able to complete their assigned workload during contracted working hours and that they had an acceptable workload than non-users to a statistically significant degree.
Wellbeing scores for Oak users were higher (meaning better wellbeing) than non-users (43.76 compared to 40.65).
Given the pressures on teacher retention, it was encouraging to see teachers who use Oak are much more likely to anticipate staying in teaching. Only 9% of Oak users thought they would not be in education in two years, compared to 29% for non-users. This also compared favourably to a national benchmark where 16% of education professionals anticipated they would no longer be working in education.5
One primary school teacher had to teach a unit on sliders and mechanisms for design and technology which was an entirely new subject area for her and had no materials for. She found Oak’s resources aligned exactly to her needs, which meant that her pupils were able to meet the lesson objectives confidently.
Impact on curriculum quality
In alignment with our focus on supporting schools to improve curriculum quality, 78% of teachers using Oak found that it had an impact on their curriculum. Most teachers who participated in this research hadn’t adopted Oak wholesale. Instead, they had taken learnings from our model and applied it to their existing curriculum. They had swapped or added certain lessons based on our curricula (43%), changed how they sequence their curriculum (29%) and only 6% started using our curriculum as their main curriculum sequence.
52% of users agreed that our curriculum and resources have improved the quality of their lesson planning and delivery, 53% agreed that using our resources increased their confidence in curriculum design and it improved their school’s overall curriculum for 47%.
“There is a safety to the resources, I know that I can just go to them and they will do what I need them to do.”
Impact on pupils
Our resources are more frequently used in more disadvantaged areas by IDACI quintile (Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index), which is partially reflecting our efforts to reach out particularly to these schools. 69% more lessons were taken (per 1000 pupils) in the most compared to the least deprived areas.6
Teachers who use our resources reported that higher proportions of their pupils were exceeding expectations than non-users to a statistically significant degree.
ImpactEd also found that teachers thought Oak to be a particularly beneficial resource for pupils with Special Educational Needs (both within mainstream settings and special schools). These pupils seemed to respond well to the structure, can revisit content as often as they need to and work at their own pace, and resources can be printed to share with them.
Finally, just as we have seen during the pandemic, our online lessons are still supporting pupils to continue to access learning when they are not in school, which is an asset with continuing challenges around pupil attendance and for pupils who are excluded or isolated.
“I would never go back now, they know what the routines are and even though the lessons are only 25 minutes we are getting so much more done. Even the SEND pupils who normally don’t access lessons, I would say that one of them is now nearly the top of the class as they have found it so easy to follow and accessible!”
During the interviews, most teachers told ImpactEd they appreciated that these resources are free and high-quality, and can be used as inspiration for their own lesson materials or to adapt to suit the needs of their pupils.
The evaluation found a few areas of improvement, namely improving the quality of resources, having a wider variety of resources available, making resources more adaptable, and improving schools’ awareness of resources available.
In response to the feedback received from teachers over the past three years, we are set to launch new curriculum plans and teaching resources over the coming weeks.
Our new curriculum plans will cover six subjects to start with (English, maths, science, history for KS1-4, primary geography and secondary music), and will be specifically designed to support in-class use. More subjects will follow next academic year.
As we have done over these past years, we will continue to evaluate the impact of these new resources as well, to understand the difference they make for both teachers and pupils.
Get updates on our curricula and resources