DfE research: 'Limited evidence’ holding degree in subject improves pupil outcomes

There is “limited evidence” that teachers holding a degree in the subject they teach improves pupils outcomes, according to a new study.


Research by the Department for Education has found that while there is evidence "specialist" teachers have a "small" positive impact on pupil outcomes at GCSE in maths, English and humanities, there is "no discernible effect" of "non-specialist" teaching at GCSE for modern foreign languages and science.


The DfE’s analysis – published in a research paper – categorises teachers as "specialist" or "non-specialist" on the basis of whether they hold a degree or other post A-level qualification in the subject they teach.


It is not possible to directly link data on individual teachers to pupil outcomes, so the analysis looks at the proportion of specialist teachers in a subject area at school level. 


The DfE’s research reveals "mixed or limited findings" which "do not imply a causal link" between specialist teaching and pupils outcomes.


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