Making a real difference
Show Me The Evidence
The roots of our approach can be found in research and data. Since 2010, our Education Research and Data teams have been working to understand more about teaching and learning maths and those evidence-based insights are applied on a daily basis to refine and inform what we do.
Research, paired with feedback from teachers, means that Sparx is constantly evolving in order to maximise the impact we can make. Members of our team are regular contributors to education industry conferences and research initiatives reflecting our belief in collaboration in education. We are always happy to share our learning. Discover more about our research, evidence and feedback from teachers below and at #EdTechEvidence.
Teacher time saved per week
Based on a teacher with
10 classes a week
Bespoke data points
Create truly personalised
homework for every learner
Sparx students compared
to national norms
Sharing our learning
Since 2010, our Educational Research Team has been investigating what factors contribute towards learning and we use this evidence to inform how we develop Sparx Maths.
In the below publications you can discover more about our research in student motivation, teacher workload, the impact of homework and much more.
Does length of homework have an impact on attainment?
The relationship between homework length and attainment is a hotly debated topic in educational research but one that, to our knowledge, has not been investigated in a randomised controlled trial (RCT) with carefully controlled conditions in each trial arm and where individual students, rather than whole classes, are randomly assigned to each arm.
The design of our trial involved 368 Year 7 pupils from three secondary schools in Devon. The results revealed that homework length is very significantly associated with a change in student attainment. Compared to doing no homework, students made 83% more progress by completing 15 minutes of homework, and 23% more progress for every 15 minutes of additional homework thereafter.
What impact has Sparx Maths had on student attainment?
We conducted an evaluation of the performance and progress of the first cohort of students using Sparx Maths Homework in Key Stage 3. Compared with national norms, Sparx students made 67% more progress in year 7 and a further 63% more progress in year 8. Compared with a previous cohort of year 7 students in one of the same schools, they made 67% more progress, and there was some indication that lower ability students actually made disproportionately more progress in year 8. 70% of pupils had reached the expected KS3 standard by the end of the fifth half term in year 7 – more than a year earlier than in the national cohort. Progress was not negatively affected by prior ability, free school meal status or gender which contrasts the national norms.
Why does trial design matter?
Following our research into the effect of homework length on attainment, our educational research team looked into the trial designs of 18 RCTs funded by the Education Endowment Foundation to evaluate maths interventions. For any RCT, getting the trial design right is critical as it determines the reliability of the evidence that will be obtained. RCTs are often very expensive, so it is important to optimise the design of a trial to ensure that costs are kept low as possible without compromising on evidence reliability.
The Sparx Maths platform enables us to run RCTs where individual students rather than whole classes/schools are randomised, which is the most cost-effective and optimum design for an RCT.
What are the key factors affecting student motivation?
We asked 444 Year 7 students from four Sparx schools to complete a questionnaire consisting of 18 questions relating to student motivation. Statistical analysis of the data revealed three underlying motivation factors: maths confidence, maths enjoyment and perceived importance of maths. Comparing the questionnaire results to students’ test performance over two half-terms, we found that maths confidence was most strongly associated with student progress and attainment, followed by maths enjoyment and perceived importance of maths. Interestingly there was no detectable effect of gender on maths confidence or enjoyment.
Why is bookwork so important?
Although Sparx Maths is based online, we encourage students to complete their bookwork through regular bookwork checks. The below two external papers justify why we put so much emphasis on learners writing their workings and answers down:
How handwritten input helps students learning algebra equation solving (March 2008) – read now.
The pen is mightier than the keyboard: advantages of longhand over laptop note taking (April 2014) – read now.
What impact does Sparx Maths have on teacher workload?
Excessive workload is a key issue for recruitment and retention in the teaching profession and the single most cited reason for leaving teaching. To assess the impact of the Sparx Maths product on teachers’ workload, we surveyed all 240 maths teachers in schools using Sparx Maths. Of the 79 teachers who responded, 90% stated that Sparx decreased their workload overall, with an estimated median change in time spent on non-teaching tasks of 30 minutes reduction per class per week.
Why does Sparx Maths work?
Sparx Maths has been carefully designed using evidence from active research in schools since 2010, as well as from published educational research literature – this is the only way to make sure EdTech is truly impact-centric. Sparx is the crucial combination of what is practical, what is proven amongst educators, what is proven within educational research, and conducting research of our own when there isn’t yet consensus within the education community. Continuous collaboration with schools paired with the ability to test, learn and discard things that aren’t proven to work are the key to our success.
Head of Department end of term report
End of term reports provide Heads of Maths with ‘at a glance’ overview and insights into class wide progress in the preceding term.
Multi-Academy Trust end of term report
Multi-Academy Trust reports provide insights into student progress in maths compared with other academies in the group.
All about impact
Everything we do is informed by our mission; to transform the way young people learn and improve outcomes for all learners.
A spirit of challenge and passion for what we do is part of our culture – as individuals and as a community.
Philippa Stevens, Teacher
Philippa Stevens has recently become the Second in
Department for maths at St James School – a mixed secondary school based in Exeter. In this interview, Philippa shares her experience of using Sparx Maths Homework and the impact is has had on her life.