Interview - Sir Kevan Collins

Monday, May 14, 2018

Chief executive of the Education Endowment Foundation

The charity’s DfE-funded scheme will look at how to provide advice for parents to help pre-school children with language development and reading.

What is the aim of the trial?

We know that children from poorer homes are already behind their better-off classmates when they start school. We also know that the quality of the home learning environment and parental engagement are key predictors of whether a child is likely to succeed at school and in life. So, the fund is aimed at finding out how we can best help mums, dads and other carers – particularly those from the hardest-to-reach backgrounds – to support their children’s education and to narrow those stubborn gaps in language development and other areas.

What will it involve and where will it take place?

Anyone with a high-potential project or idea can apply for funding when the round opens later this month. We hope to fund robust trials of up to eight different programmes across the North of England.

The successful projects will already have some evidence of having a promising impact on the home learning environment and, if our trials show they have an impact, they should be able to be scaled up to improve outcomes for disadvantaged children across the country.

How will you identify parents who need support to help their children’s language development? For example, how will you reach families who do not send their child to a nursery or childminder?

Almost without exception, parents want to do the best for their children, at school and later in life. But for some parents, finding the time and knowing where to start is difficult.

Some parents feel anxious about reading to their children, particularly if their own literacy skills aren’t great. Others worry that they can’t afford the same sort of books or trips out that other families can.

We will be looking to support organisations and projects that have a track record of engaging parents, particularly those that are hard-to-reach and most in need of support. We know that recruiting and retaining parents can sometimes be challenging, so we expect these trials will look at different ways to do so.

What will the activities involve and where will they take place? Will it be in a nursery, children’s centre or parents’ homes?

The focus of the fund is to find out how to support parents to [aid] their children’s education, particularly in language and reading, at home.

The programmes we trial could be run out of nurseries or schools, or they could be run by local charities or children’s centres. The activities could be focused on supporting parents by utilising digital technology, or they could involve face-to-face sessions. We are interested in the most promising ideas, wherever they come from.

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