Lavish praise from teachers ‘does not help pupils’

The BBC is reporting new research that suggests teachers who give struggling pupils “lavish praise” could make them even less likely to succeed…

The Sutton Trust education charity has warned that many strategies used by teachers have no evidence to show that they really work…

Robert Coe of Durham University said teachers needed to know what was “most likely to be effective”.

The study, What Makes Great Teaching, produced by Prof Coe for the Sutton Trust, drew on more than 200 pieces of research into what works in the classroom.

It highlights what it says are commonly used ways of teaching which are not supported by the research evidence.

Although teachers want to encourage underachieving pupils by giving them praise, this can have a negative impact on them, the study concluded.

It warned that research shows that if children’s failure brings them sympathy they are more likely to associate that approval with underachievement.

In contrast, it said that pupils who are “presented with anger” will not have such a positive association with performing badly.

The study also challenged the idea that pupils should be put into different sets according to their ability. Separating pupils in this way “makes very little difference to learning outcomes,” it said.

The researchers identified two main factors which are linked to whether pupils’ results can be improved – the quality of teaching and teachers’ subject knowledge.

The “quality of instruction” included “effective questioning” of pupils and a good use of assessment.

And it said that teachers with a strong understanding of their specialist subject were particularly likely to have a positive impact on how pupils learn…

Head teachers welcomed the study’s emphasis on research-based evidence for teaching…

More at: Lavish praise from teachers ‘does not help pupils’


Download the full report from the Sutton Trust: What makes great teaching?


There’s not much meat in this report of the study, beyond the seemingly uninsightful conclusion that the two main factors that improve results are “quality of teaching and teachers’ subject knowledge”(!), but download the full copy from the Sutton Trust or see this for more much detail: Sutton Trust: Seven popular teaching strategies unsupported by evidence.

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Sutton Trust: Seven popular teaching strategies unsupported by evidence
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  1. stevesheehan52

    SchoolsImprove you cannot reduce a 57 page report to one paragraph. Also the headline was cherry picking worthy of the Daily Mail

  2. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Surely a “credit where credit’s due” policy is best rather than blanket praise. Never thought any different to be honest

  3. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove The old setting issue comes up again – surely the benefit/non-benefits are dependent on the subject taught

  4. artmadnana

    SchoolsImprove to show a child you are genuinely impressed with even a small achievement is common sense. ‘Lavish’ is misleading.

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