15 Sep, 2015

Big Hopes Big Future: evaluation report. England pilot study

Home-Start UK | Published 2 September 2015

This is the report of an evaluation of a trial programme which aimed to improve children’s readiness for school. The pilot supported 225 families, including 540 children, in 12 Home- Starts in England, specifically targeting the most disadvantaged families including those who did not readily engage with their children’s early learning because they lacked confidence or felt alienated from the education system. Families also lacked the books and toys needed to support their children’s learning. Many had chaotic lifestyles or had poor health, disability, or English was not a first language. The study showed that children saw significant improvements in all four indications into school readiness: language and cognitive skills (e.g. identifying letters of the alphabet, recognising own name, reads at home, counting to five); Behavioural adjustment (e.g. tantrums, lack of patience, easily distracted, poor response to reprimands); Children’s daily living skills (e.g. toilet training, using knife and fork); Family support (e.g. being punctual, absence levels from nursery). It also showed that the biggest impact was seen with children from families with complex problems. The improvement in language and cognition was particularly evident for children who were eligible for free school meals, for families with mental health issues and for those with multiple deprivation.