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Professorial Senior Research Fellow, University of Oxford

Pamela Sammons joined the Department of Education, University of Oxford in October 2009. From 2004-2009 she was a Professor of Education at the University of Nottingham and a member of the Teacher and Leadership Research Centre (TLRC) there.

Previously she was a Professor of Education at the Institute of Education, University of London and Coordinating Director of its International School Effectiveness & Improvement Centre (1999-2004). She has been involved in educational research for the last 30 years with a special focus on the topics of school effectiveness and improvement, leadership and equity in education. She has a particular interest in the evaluation of education policy initiatives including both formative and summative approaches. She spent nine years working for the Inner London Education Authority (1981-1990) in its Research and Statistics Branch where she was senior researcher on the influential School Matters primary school study (Open Books, 1988) and led a review of the ILEA’s Education Priority Indices before joining the Centre for Educational Research at the LSE (1990-1993). There she directed an ESRC funded study on Models of Effective Schools, research on Local Management of Schools and an evaluation of Accreditation of Prior Learning for the Employment Department. Following this she was employed as a Senior Researcher, Reader and Professor of Education at the Institute of Education (1993-2004).

Pamela has conducted many studies of primary and secondary schools and their influence on pupils. Her review of Key Characteristics of Effective Schools (1995) informed the development of the Ofsted Framework of Inspection for Schools. She directed the evaluation of the Making Belfast Work Raising School Standards Project (1996-1998) and was part of the SOEID funded Improving School Effectiveness study in Scotland (1994-1998). She also led a major study of secondary schools and departmental effectiveness (Forging Links: Effective Schools & Effective Departments, Paul Chapman 1997) funded by the ESRC. She was lead director of the national evaluation of New Community Schools funded by the Scottish Executive Education Department (2000-2003) and led the value added component of the DfES evaluation of the Key Stage 3 pilot in England (2002). She was also a co- director of the VITAE DfES funded research on variations in teachers’ lives and work and their effects on pupils (2001-2005) involving a study of teacher effectiveness in promoting pupils’ reading, and mathematics progress and pupils’ attitudes/motivation in 7 LEAs (Teachers Matter, McGraw Hill, 2007). Pam was co-director of an evaluation of aspects of the impact of the London Leadership Strategy for the National College for School Leadership (NCSL) (2005- 2006). She was co-director of a DCSF funded research project investigating the Impact of School Leadership on Pupil Outcomes (2006-2009) and also co-directed the Effective Classroom Practice (ECP) mixed method study of teaching funded by the ESRC (2006-2008).

She is currently a principal investigator on a major longitudinal study of effective pre-school , primary and secondary education, that is tracking children from age 3 to 16+ years (EPPSE 3-16+, 1996-2014) funded by the DfE. This has informed the development of pre-school education policy in England. She is also a principal investigator on the DfE funded longitudinal Evaluation of Children’s Centres in England (ECCE 2009-2015) studying their impact on children and families.

She has acted as a consultant on school effectiveness and improvement to the Department for Education, Northern Ireland, the SOEID, Skolverket (the national education agency in Sweden), the DfE and Ofsted. She contributed to an influential comparative research study on PISA 2000 Results commissioned by the German Institute of International Educational Research (DIPF) for the project Comparison of Educational Systems in Selected Countries and was lead author of the England Country Report (2003). She was a consultant to Ofsted’s retrospective evaluation of the impact of inspection over 10 years ‘Improvement through Inspection’ (2004), co-authored the evaluation report and submitted evidence to the House of Commons Education Select Committee on the evaluation findings. Pam has briefed education ministers Cathy Ashton and Margaret Hodge and the Paymaster General, Dawn Primarolo, on the impact of pre-school on various occasions, and contributed to the Treasury Advisory Group on the development of the 10 Year Strategy for Childcare (2004). She conducted analyses at the request of the Head of Welfare Reform at the Treasury which contributed to policy development and increased investment in the Early Years (2002-2003).

Pamela was a member of the DCSF Value Added Methodology Advisory Group (VAMAG 2002-2004) and the Rose Review on the teaching of early reading, including the role of synthetic phonics, 2005-2006. She conducted research to inform the Cabinet Office Equalities Review in 2006 and was technical Adviser to the DCSF Expert group reviewing the abolition of Key Stage 3 national assessment and School Report Cards (2009). She was a member of the Government Science Office review of the DCSF and its use of evidence in policy development and implementation (2010). She also contributed to the recent Field and Allen Reviews on early years provision (2010/11). She provided advise to inform the Bew Review of Key Stage 2 testing, assessment and accountability (2011). She acted as expert adviser to the OECD Reviews of Evaluation & Assessment in Education Country Report for the Czech Republic (2011/12).

Pamela is Course Director for the MSc in Education: Research Design and Methodology at the Department of Education in Oxford. Previously she was co-director of the EdD in Educational Leadership at the School of Education in Nottingham. Her doctoral students come from a range of international and national contexts. She has supervised 13 PhD and EdD students (6 FT & 7 PT students) to successful completion of their studies since 1997.

She is a member of the Higher Education Academy and a Fellow of the RSA. She is a school governor for Oxford Spires Academy and for North Leigh Church of England Primary School.


  • –present
    Professorial Senior Research Fellow, University of Oxford