Following the signs (of potential)

Claudia Coussins
Senior Programmes Manager

19 May 2021

Since the very early days of What Works for Children’s Social Care, we’ve been interested in understanding what educational interventions are most effective at closing the attainment gap between children with a social worker and their peers. Closing this gap is vital, as a good education is linked with better outcomes in lots of areas in later life. 

We’re now recruiting participants for two projects, identified by previous research as showing ‘Signs of Potential’: Research Learning Communities (RLC) and Catch Up® Literacy. Alongside funding the delivery, we will also be funding their independent evaluation (using Randomised Control Trials) so we can better understand what works for children with a social worker.

Our previous research suggested that interventions involving parents and carers are particularly encouraging. We’re excited to be trialling a programme – Catch Up® Literacy – that is delivered by foster carers. Catch  Up® Literacy is a structured one-to-one intervention for learners who find reading difficult. It enables struggling readers to achieve more than double the progress of typically developing readers.

The second project, RLC aims to improve teaching quality outcomes by raising teachers’ awareness, understanding, and use of educational research in their teaching practice. The new trial will focus on Children Looked After or children who have been looked after in the last 6 years.

How to get involved
We are funding the cost of providing the intervention and the evaluation. This is a fantastic opportunity to be part of groundbreaking research to help improve educational outcomes for children with a social worker.

For Catch Up® Literacy, we’re seeking applications from interested local authorities and Independent Fostering Agencies.

For Research Learning Communities, we’re interested in hearing from local authorities and virtual schools.

You can find out more about the project, and how to apply on our website.

We’re running information webinars, where you’ll also have a chance to ask any questions you may have about the intervention or the evaluation.

Programme details 

Research Learning Communities
RLC is a whole school intervention where designated teachers from each school attend RLC workshops during the academic year 2021/22 in which they discuss research with academic experts and colleagues from other schools. The focus will be on maths and English but specific areas e.g. metacognition in English will be determined in the summer term. These will be based on a mix of what the EEF toolkit indicates is effective and discussion with the Virtual School Heads and Designated Teachers. 

The delivery partner, Durham University is recruiting virtual schools who will then select primary schools to be part of the intervention. To be eligible, these primaries would need to have at least one student in year 5 or 6 who had had a social worker in the last six years, and ideally at least one student in those years who is, or has been in care.

Catch Up® Literacy
Catch Up® Literacy uses a book-based approach to support learners in their reading of a book so they activate both dimensions of reading – word recognition processes (including phonics) and language comprehension processes. Delivery consists of 2x 15 minute sessions each week, delivered by foster carers in line with terms dates starting after October half term 2021 until the week commencing 18th July 2022. Foster carers will also receive training and support throughout.

Catch Up® Literacy will be recruiting foster carers through local authorities and Independent Fostering Agencies. The precise age range to be recruited is yet to be determined, but we anticipate this being young people in year 5 and year 6