The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) was set up in the last few years in the UK to fund randomised controlled trials of intervention to tackle the “attainment gap” – that is the gap between children with and without socially disadvantaged backgrounds.
Over 1.4 million (21%) children aged 4-15 are eligible for free school meals in this country. They will start primary school behind their better-off classmates – and this attainment gap will increase throughout their schooling. The attainment gap between rich and poor pupils is particularly stark compared with other OECD countries.
Young people with poor educational attainment are much more likely to end up not in education, employment or training (NEET). So the aim is to test out interventions and then introduce them into all schools. They do this by making information available to those responsible for providing service in schools and encouraging them to make the best evidence based decisions.
One of the main focuses of the EEF is literacy and more recently they have become interested in language development in the early years. They have produced summaries of the interventions that have been looked into – including parenting interventions, meta-cognition and self-regulation, digital technology, homework etc.
They have also produced a specific summary related to oral language interventions of direct relevance to everyone involved in the Action.
But the evidence does not speak for itself. It needs to be made available and relevant for different contexts and THEN it needs to be implemented. Again the EEF, recognising this, have come up with a new “Advocacy” scheme whereby interventions that they recommend are then rolled out in schools.
For this, they are focusing on the North East of England. We put in a bid to them to support such activity across 175 schools in the Teesside area – just south of Newcastle. They liked our bid and today we went for an interview with the EEF at the local Durham University to see whether they would support us. We do not know the answer yet and I will keep viewers of this blog up to date on how we get on. I am pathologically optimistic as ever.
The key thing here is that while bringing together and reviewing the evidence is key start to the process it is only that. The real challenge is meaningful translation.
Professor of Speech and Language Science, Newcastle University
COST Action IS1406 Chair.
This is taken from the COST Action IS1406 website.