Professor Pam Sammons

Professor Pamela Sammons joined the Department of Education, University of Oxford in October 2009 and was appointed a Senior Research Fellow at Jesus College Oxford in 2010.

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 over 35 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 9 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 Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) revised Framework of Inspection for Schools. She directed the evaluation of the Making Belfast Work Raising School Standards Project (1996-1998) and was coordinator at the Institute of Education of the SOEID funded Improving School Effectiveness study in Scotland (1994-1998). She also led a major study of secondary schools (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 co-director of the DfES funded research on Variations in teachers’ lives and work and their effects on pupils (VITAE 2001-2005) a large study of teacher effectiveness in promoting pupils’ reading, and mathematics progress and pupils’ attitudes/motivation (Teachers Matter, McGraw Hill, 2007). Pamela was co-director of an evaluation of the impact of the London Leadership Strategy for the National College for School Leadership (NCSL 2005- 2006). She co-directed a national DCSF funded research project investigating the Impact of School Leadership on Pupil Outcomes (2006-2009) and co-directed a project investigating Effective Classroom Practice (OUP, McGraw Hill, 2014) a mixed method study of teachers’ influence and student outcomes funded by the ESRC (2006-2008).

She was a principal investigator on a major longitudinal study of Effective Pre-school Primary  and Secondary provision tracking children from age 3 to 16+ years (EPPE/EPPSE 3-16+, 1996-2014) funded by the DCFS/DfE, that informed the development of pre-school education policy in England over successive governments (2003-2017). Further information about EPPSE and a full list of publications can be found here:

The British Educational Research Association (BERA) recognised the original  Effective Provision of Pre-school and Primary Education (EPPE 3-11) research  as a “landmark study” in celebrating 40 years of research (1974-2014) that has had ‘significant impact on educational policy, practice, research methodology and/or theory’ in the period 2004 to the present. .

The Effective Provision of Pre-school Primary and Secondary Education Research programme (EPPSE/EPPE 3-16) 1996-2014 was chosen as a University of Oxford Department of Education Research Excellence Impact Case Study to highlight research excellence and Impact in Education  the most  recent Research excellence Framework (REF) 2014

The Sutton Trust funded a follow up of the EPPSE research  exploring how disadvantage shapes students’ educational outcomes up to age 18 and beyond: the role of pre-school, primary and  secondary schools  in promoting social mobility  (2014-2016).

Pamela was also a principal investigator on a major   DCSF/DfE  funded longitudinal evaluation of Children’s Centres (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 Scottish Education executive Department (SEED/SOEID), Skolverket (the national education agency in Sweden), the Department for Education (DCSF/DfE) and Office for Standards in Education (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. Pamela has briefed education ministers Sam Giymah,  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 (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 contributed to the Field and Allen reviews of early years provision (2010/11). She provided advice to the Bew Review of Key Stage 2 assessment and school accountability (2011).

She acted as expert advisor to the OECDD Reviews of Evaluation and Assessment in Education Country Report for the Czech Republic (2011/12) and was expert academic review member for the Evaluation of the Center for Individual Development & Adaptive Dducation of Children at Risk (IDeA) at the German Institute for International Educational Research (DIPF) in 2011.

She contributed evidence to the House of Lords Select Committee on the role of Chief Scientific Advisors in Government Departments (2011-2012). This highlighted the weak evidence base to support the introduction of ‘free schools’ in England as was used as a specific example critical of the lack of evidence to support the DfE and  Minister’s claims for the policy in the Committee’s report (2012). She was advisor to the DfE on school performance measures and on The London Effect (2014-2016).

To foster research impact Pamela has conducted a range of accessible research reviews on effective teaching, school leadership and school improvement for practitioners commissioned by the Education Development Trust (formerly CfBT). She led a study on Inspiring Teaching to support teachers’ professional development and one on the role of CfBT  role in school improvement in Brunei (2012-2014).

Pamela was elected as co-convenor then convenor of the European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction (EARLI) Educational Effectiveness SIG 18 (2009-2013).

Her doctoral students come from a range of international and national contexts. She has supervised 16  PhD/DPhil  and EdD students  to successful completion of their studies since 1997. She has a strong interest in educational research methods including ‘mixed methods’ approaches and led an MSc at Oxford on Educational Research Design and Methods (2009-2014). Pamela was awarded Outstanding Graduate Supervisor Social Sciences Division at the Oxford University Students Union Teaching Awards in 2017

Pamela has been a governor of a primary school in Oxfordshire and is a governor of Oxford Spires Academy, a local secondary school in Oxford. She is working with Oxford University Press on its online resources (Oxford Owl Pathways to School Improvement) to support the use of research to promote school improvement, and advises OUP on ways to study the impact of its products and services.

Pamela has given numerous keynote presentations to academic audiences as well as to policy makers, head teachers, Local Authority and other conferences in the UK and abroad. She is a member of the Higher Education Academy and a Fellow of the RSA.

Research Interests

  • Educational and teacher effectiveness
  • Early years education and home learning
  • School improvement
  • Equity and the impact of disadvantage in education
  • Evaluation

Click here to download a list of selected publications with links to reports.


  • Department staff


  • Professorial Senior Research Fellow

Subject area

  • MSc Education (Research Training)

Research groups

  • Families, Effective Learning and Literacy (FELL)