'Learning together' trial open to 150 settings

Settings are invited to taking part in a £680k trial looking at the effects on children of boosting their parents' teaching skills and confidence.

Parents and their three- and four- year-olds will attend 12 one-hour sessions designed to encourage home learning, to improve literacy and language skills in their children.

The £689,059 grant awarded to education charity Peeple, will fund 150 settings to take part in the programme.

The grant is one of a number announced by the Education Endowment Foundation, which is funding five new trials to evaluate the impact of a range of programmes on children’s attainment.

The largest grant, for £1.2m, is going to a scheme called SAPERE, which uses philosophy to improve maths and English in primary school pupils.

Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust, which set up the foundation, said, ‘Evidence is teachers’ greatest ally when it comes to deciding between different programmes or interventions. The evaluations of these six programmes will add to the EEF’s growing source of robust and reliable evidence that teachers and school leaders can use.

Peeple’s ‘Learning Together’ programme aims to improve children’s life chances by encouraging parents to make the most of everyday learning opportunities.

The organisation now runs a 22-place pre-school in a disadvantaged area of Oxford where the scheme launched in 1995.

Chief executive Sally Smith said, ‘We want the programme to increase parental engagement in the pre-school and help families to feel confident when they move on to the next setting.

‘Most of all we want parents to feel valued as their child’s first educator.’

The programme applies the ORIM framework (Opportunities, Recognition, Interaction, Modelling), developed by Professors Cathy Nutbrown and Peter Hannon.

The method gets parents thinking about how they are helping their children’s development.

The sessions emphasise communication via books, sharing stories and rhymes.

Parents are encouraged to work towards a qualification which features keeping a journal tracking their child’s learning.

One parent said, ‘I didn’t realise all that my daughter was capable of and that opportunities for learning are everywhere.’

 The foundation, set up in 2011 by the Sutton Trust, with a Department for Education grant of £125m, aims to break the link between family income and educational achievement.

The results of the trials will be available for free and used to inform the EEF’s Teaching and Learning Toolkit and its Early Years companion, an accessible summary of international educational research. 

The evolving resource covers 34 topics and summarises research from over 10,000 studies. 

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