Want to make creations as awesome as this one?




Create a leadership implementation plan, judge the readiness of the school to deliver that plan, then prepare staff and resources.

Assess the readiness of the school to deliver the implementation plan.

Once ready to implement an intervention, practically prepare for its use:a. create a shared understanding of the implementation process and provide appropriate support and incentives;b. introduce new skills, knowledge, and strategies with up-front training; andc. prepare the implementation infrastructure.

Although there is logic to this sequence, schools may decide to approach the process differently to suit their needs. For example, it may be felt there is value in conducting an initial readiness assessment before creating a detailed implementation plan.

Checklist Questions

Having decided to deliver a specific programme or practice, the focus turns to preparing the school and its staff. This phase can be intensive, requiring a significant effort to ensure the school is in a position to deliver the new approach effectively. As this section is extensive, and potentially overwhelming, we have organised the recommendations as three interconnected sets of activities:

Develop a clear, logical, and well-specified plan:a. specify the active ingredients of the intervention; b. develop an appropriate package ofimplementation strategies; andc. define a set of clear implementation outcomes.


b. develop an appropriate package ofimplementation strategies

c. define a set of clear implementation outcomes

a. specify the active ingredients of the intervention

An important first step when preparing for implementation is ensuring there is a detailed and shared understanding of the programme or practice that has been selected. This can be aided by creating a well-specified plan, which, in turn, can act as a basis for practically preparing for implementation

Develop a clear, logical, and well-specified implementation plan.


For example, if the intervention is focused on developing pedagogy—such as formative assessment—what are the core principles, strategies, and behaviours that will reflect its use? The use of formative assessment is likely to differ across subjects, although there will be some core features that are relevant to all contexts.Ultimately, the active ingredients can relate to any aspect of the intervention that you think is key to its success; the important thing is that you have an idea of ‘where to be tight and where to be loose’.

It is easier to implement an intervention if it is clear which features need to be adopted closely (that is, with fidelity) to get the intended outcomes. These features or practices are sometimes called the ‘active ingredients’ of the intervention. A well specified set of ‘active ingredients’ captures the essential principles and practices that underpin the approach. They are the key behaviours and content that make it work.Generally, the more clearly identified the active ingredients are, the more likely the programme or practice is to be implemented successfully. On the other hand, implementation will be more difficult if there isn’t a shared understanding of what the approach actually involves. Hence, when preparing for implementation try and distil the essential elements of the programme or practice, share them widely and agree them as fixed components that are applied consistently across the school.

a. specify the active ingredients of the intervention clearly; know where to be ‘tight’ and where to be ‘loose’.

  • If structural changes are necessary across the school to accommodate the active ingredients, ensure these are planned in advance and maintained over time. If you think it needs three sessions a week to be successful, make time for three sessions a week!
  • If you are developing training manuals and implementation resources, ensure they are tightly aligned to the key components and objectives of the intervention. At the same time, retain sufficient scope for appropriate adaptations where there is flexibility.
  • Professional development activities should focus on understanding and applying the key intervention strategies. Many of the EEF’s most promising projects are precise in terms of the teaching practices they are introducing or changing, with the training and coaching activities focused squarely on making these changes.


Build your implementation plan around the active ingredients of your intervention:

When planning for implementation, a broad rangeof strategies are available to educators. Some will be very familiar (such as training, coaching, audit, and feedback) and some less so (such as using implementation advisors or train-the-trainer strategies).Typically, the application of a single strategy alone will be insufficient to successfully support the implementation of a new approach. Instead, a combination of multiple strategies will be needed. When selecting implementation strategies, aim for a tailored package that supports change at different levels of the organisation—individual practitioners, departmental teams, school level changes, and so on. The objective is to align these strategies so they reinforce each other and are sequenced appropriately. For example, activities designed to increase staff motivation, such as recruiting opinion-leaders, would typically precede training and professional development.

b. Develop a targeted, yet multi-stranded, package of implementation strategies.


Implementation monitoring and data collection processes also need to be operationalised. They need to fit with school routines and be usable for staff as part of their daily work. Data collection processes that are complicated and require extensive resources run the risk of not being supported and sustainable in a busy work environment. Simple and quick to collect measures, on the other hand, will likely find greater acceptance among staff and be easier to integrate into implementation processes. Clearly, this highlights a tension between reliability and feasibility.

To monitor the use of a new approach, and ensure it is being delivered with high quality, schools will need to define the implementation outcomes they want to achieve and develop an appropriate set of measures.When selecting implementation outcomes and measures, aim to capture both early signs of successful implementation as well as data on how the intervention is being embedded and adapted over time. Of course, there is a practical limit to what you will be able to measure, so pick implementation measures that are key to the intervention and its delivery. A good starting point is focusing on whether the intervention has been implemented as intended by measuring fidelity in relation to the active ingredients of your intervention.Before a school can begin monitoring the adoption of a new approach, the implementation outcomes need to be agreed and understood by those staff who are using the intervention.

c. Define clear implementation outcomes; monitor them using robust and pragmatic measures.

Examples of questions to consider during a readiness assessment

Schools can use this framework to determinethe degree to which they are ready to adopt anew approach, identify barriers that may impede implementation, and reveal strengths that can be used in the implementation effort. This assessment canbe based on simple questions that address critical features of an innovation, but it can also include more sophisticated measures to evaluate the school’s implementation climate, its general motivation, or other underlying characteristics.


At this point, a school should have a clearer idea of what it will implement, how it will implement it, the ways in which it will monitor that process, and the resources required to make it a success. With a more concrete plan emerging, now is a natural point to take the temperature on how ready it is to put that plan into action.There are many different definitions and understandings of implementation readiness, and the field is far from a consensus on how this can be measured and assessed. One helpful model posits implementation readiness as a combination of three components: the organisation’s motivation to adopt an innovation, its general capacity, and its innovation- specific capacity.

Thoroughly assess the degree to which the school is ready to implement the innovation.

b. Introduce new skills, knowledge, and strategies with explicit up-front training.

c. Prepare the implementation infrastructure.

a. Create a shared understanding of the implementation process and provide appropriate support and incentives.

Once ready to implement an intervention, practically prepare for its use.

  • communicate the purpose and importance of the innovation, and what is expected from staff in its use;
  • clearly articulate the alignment between the intervention, student learning needs, and the school’s broader purpose and values;
  • ensure there is shared, clear understanding of the active ingredients of the approach; and
  • use existing lines of communication—such as staff and governor meetings—and create repeated opportunities to discuss the planned change.


While communication is certainly valuable in developing a theoretical understanding of what is expected during the implementation process, it is unlikely by itself to be sufficient to change perceptions, attitudes, and behaviours among staff.Therefore other, more action-oriented, strategies may be required, such as...

School leaders set the foundation for implementation by aligning it with a school’s mission, vision, and goals. Nevertheless, for this vision to be become a reality there needs to be common understanding of the objectives and widespread buy-in. Having decided to commit to a new approach, school leaders need to create a common and explicit understanding of what will be expected, supported, and rewarded during the implementation process. It is important that leaders:

a. Create a shared understanding of the implementation process and provide appropriate support and incentives.

  • Focus both on generic and subject-specific pedagogy. Provide structured support to help staff apply general pedagogical strategies to specific subject areas.
  • Use a range of media and delivery approaches, including video, to demonstrate skills and exemplify good practice.
  • Create opportunities for staff to reflect on their existing beliefs and practices, and challenge them in a non-threatening manner.
  • Make training interactive, with active learning through observation, meaningful discussion and reflection, demonstration of skills, deliberate practice, and feedback.

When developing or attending training, ensure it focuses on developing the key intended behaviours and activities for the intervention—its ‘active ingredients’

A large body of evidence, including from evaluations funded by the EEF, shows the benefit of high-quality, up- front training for teachers. The typical purpose of this training is to develop an understanding of the theory and rationale behind a new approach and introduce the necessary skills, knowledge, and strategies. Schools should aim to factor in a number of common features of effective up-front training when introducing new programmes or practices:

b. Introduce new skills, knowledge, and strategies with explicit up-front training.

  • technical support and equipment—with staff trained and skilled in its use;
  • printed and digital resources that are licensed and up-to-date;
  • dedicated space to deliver the intervention, which is regularly timetabled; and
  • a realistic amount of time allocated to implement the intervention, review implementation data, and address problems.
  • dedicated administrative support from staff who are fully briefed on the purpose of the intervention and understand their roles in supporting its use;
  • appropriate governance, with a clear mandate and operating procedures;

Remember, this is more about repurposing existing time, effort, and resources than adding lots of additional infrastructure.

The implementation of a new approach often relies on a range of simple things that facilitate its use: the proactive support from an administrator, the availability of digital devices that are configured properly, a process for keeping a record of decisions, and so on. Examples like these relate to the governance, administration, and resources that support an intervention. These factors are unusual in that they tend not to be noticed when working well, however, they are important in removing barriers to implementation and allowing staff to focus on developing and applying new skills.Having assessed the readiness to deliver an intervention, schools should have a clearer idea of the resources and support that are needed. This is likely to include:

c. Prepare the implementation infrastructure.

Is there a logical and well-specified implementation plan?Do we have a clear and shared understanding of the active ingredients of our intervention and how they will be implemented?Have we selected the right set of implementation strategies, in the right order? Are we able to capture the desired (and undesired) changes in practices? Have we honestly appraised our capacity to make those changes?Are staff and the school practically ready to adopt the new approach?

Checklist questions:

As an example, if a school was introducing a small- group literacy intervention for struggling readers, it may decide to capture data on the degree to which the intervention was being delivered as intended—the fidelity of delivery. A member of the implementation team may decide to review timetables and measure the frequency of sessions, observe the delivery of interventions sessions, or speak to pupils for their perspectives on the intervention. This data could be summarised in a standardised format and discussed regularly as part of implementation team meetings.

In addition, you may want to describe who will be affected by these changes (and how), the resources required for implementation, and any external factors that could influence results.Out of this planning process should emerge a range of outputs that subsequently can be used to structure and monitor the implementation effort:

  • a clear description of the intervention;
  • a set of well-specified ‘active ingredients’;
  • an appropriate package of implementation strategies; and
  • a series of short-, medium-, and long-term implementation outcome measures.

There is no set way of conceptualising and developing an implementation plan. Logic Models are one popular tool that can help ; other schools may take a less formal approach. Whatever method is chosen, the objective should be to describe:

  • why we are doing this—a precise definition of the problem;
  • what the intervention entails—for example the active ingredients;
  • how it will be implemented—the implementation activities;
  • a means of knowing how well implementation is going—the implementation outcomes; and
  • the final intended outcomes (and so?)—the overall objectives.

While it is entirely feasible for schools and external programme developers to develop their own approaches to specifying the active ingredients of interventions, schools may find Theory of Change tools helpful in this process. If you are looking to implement a programme outside of the school, speak to the developers for their thoughts on the key activities and principles (they may not be documented).Inevitably, there are limits to how accurately you can specify the active ingredients of an intervention before its use. Schools should therefore carefully monitor and assess the implementation of the active ingredients during delivery and use this data to refine the design of the intervention over time.

Evidence-based programmes have particular value in this respect as they often contain a structured set of implementations strategies that have been tested and refined over time. In doing so, evidence-based programmes can act as useful tools to support the implementation of evidence-based practices. Details of evidence-based interventions can be found at the EEF’s Promising Projects webpage and the Institute for Effective Education’s Evidence for Impact database.In addition to using any implementation strategies that are captured within an evidence-based programme, schools should also consider additional activities that can create ‘readiness’ for that programme in their context, such as developing a receptive environment for the intervention.

If they are not (which is quite possible), schools should revisit the implementation plan and adapt it appropriately. It may, for example, be decided that additional implementation strategies are needed, further funding secured, or new individuals brought into the implementation effort.It may even be decided that it is not suitable to implement the programme or practice at that moment. If that is the case, a range of alternative options need to be explored.Schools may decide to approach implementation planning and judging readiness the other way around, or in parallel: what is important is that they operate as an iterative process.

This is certainly not an exhaustive list; it should be expanded and tailored so it fits the needs of the local context. Importantly, judgements relating to readiness should be seen as a matter of degree rather than binary positions (ready or not) and aim to draw on a range of stakeholder perspectives across the school.By building a collective understanding of the implementation requirements, and the degree to which the school is able to meet those requirements, the leadership team should be in a position to judge whether or not they can begin practical preparation for implementation. If they are ready, the practical implementation activities—such as staff training—can begin.

Does the intervention require external support that needs to be sourced outside of the school? And crucially...What can we stop doing to create the space, time, and capacity for the new implementation effort?

  • recruiting the efforts of school opinion-leaders— student, community, and teacher leaders—to articulate the benefits of the intervention; where possible, opinion-leaders should be assigned specific roles within implementation teams;
  • identifying advocates for the innovation who can champion its adoption through modelling and supporting others to use it effectively;
  • directly participating in activities that are conducive to good implementation—‘walking the walk’; this will signal a recognition of its priority while at the same time providing an arena for modelling the desired behaviours; and
  • developing incentives and rewards that can be used to acknowledge individual and team behaviours that contribute to successful implementation for example, promotion, monetary, or symbolic rewards).

Examples of questions to consider during a readiness assessment include:

  • Who are key individual and organisational stakeholders who need to be involved in the implementation process? In what ways?
  • Are these staff sufficiently skilled? If not, does our plan contain the appropriate blend of professional development activities?
  • How motivated are staff to engage in this change process? How well does the innovation align with our shared educational values?
  • Are we able to make the necessary changes to existing processes and structures, such as timetables or team meetings?
  • What type of administrative support is required? Who will provide it?
  • What technical equipment is needed to deliver the innovation?
  • How will we collect, analyse, and share data on implementation? Who will manage this?
  • Does the intervention require external support that needs to be sourced outside of the school? And crucially...
  • What can we stop doing to create the space, time, and capacity for the new implementation effort?