Who are you?
Nicola Doherty, EasyPeasy’s Head of Research, and Jane Bradbury, Head of Education
What do you do?
EasyPeasy is a digital service that supports children’s school readiness skills by improving parent engagement and building links between parents and practitioners. Through a mobile app, parents receive weekly games and activities designed by experts to encourage greater communication and interaction with their children and building the foundations for literacy through encouraging talking, playing, and conversational turns. EasyPeasy’s service includes a platform for early years teachers and practitioners so that they are able to support EasyPeasy play at home and build in the games into their settings.
We know that two fifths of children start school lacking basic skills in the areas of cognitive self-regulation, social & emotional development and communication and language and for those from disadvantaged backgrounds this figure jumps to more than half (55%). Once these gaps occur they can be difficult to close and just tend to get bigger as they proceed through school. EasyPeasy aim to decrease this gap by increasing children’s school readiness skills. Two independent randomised controlled trials led by the University of Oxford found that EasyPeasy increased children’s concentration, grit, and resilience (‘cognitive self-regulation’), which are key constituents of school readiness.
EasyPeasy was part of Cohort 4 and is a recipient of a UCL EDUCATE’s Evidence-Applied ‘EdWard’.
What education challenge did you address?
Before we began EDUCATE, we primarily measured our impact using evaluation data from psychological assessments conducted through randomised control trials. EDUCATE reminded us of the value of survey data; something we had overlooked. Through EDUCATE research sessions and mentoring, we designed and created surveys that included relevant, suitable and ethical questions. After the programme, we went on to implement these pre and post surveys, and now have a plethora of data to inform our service evaluation. Generally, this work has prompted us to look internally at what evaluation we can do ourselves using quick/effective approaches.
What impact did the UCL EDUCATE programme have on your product and company?
One of the best aspects of being part of the programme was that we learned new ways of creating surveys, how to write them better and how to do something meaningful with the results and information we collected. The research team really helped us to understand our users better and to look in-depth at our service. They gave us feedback on how to improve the survey so that we were asking the right questions about our service. It has allowed us to have more depth and understanding of our parent and practitioners community.
Our research proposal set out to determine whether EasyPeasy webinar training improves early years practitioners’ confidence in effectively engaging parents in their child’s home learning. Educate provided an effective learning platform to house our research process, which included delivering the webinar training to practitioners (randomisation through self-selection) and collecting outcome data via pre/post surveys. We are currently conducting this research through our partnership with the National Literacy Trust, funded by the DfE’s Ipswich Opportunity Area. We collaborated with the NLT to implement the survey evaluation, and will present results in August 2019 to the DfE and through local events.
How has being an EdWard recipient impacted on your company and your work?
Being awarded the EdWard has validated the self-evaluation that we have been working on, and demonstrates the progress we have made in analysing our own impact outside of academic trials.
What advice would you give to prospective EDUCATE participants?
Make sure you prepare before each meeting – the more you put in, the more you get out of it. Use the opportunities you get to collaborate with others, who might have different ideas and perspectives, especially if they don’t already know about your product.