When children from disadvantaged backgrounds start school, they are typically 4.3 months behind their classmates. As they progress through school, this deficit affects the rate at which they learn, and so the gap grows. By the time they leave secondary school the gap is more than 19 months. In Oxfordshire, despite its reputation for academic excellence, the gap is even wider.
Growing Minds is designed to be a 7-year project addressing School Readiness in 0-5-year olds living in disadvantaged communities in Oxfordshire. It will do this by providing some additional resources to families (a book a month from birth until 5), in-home support from Home-Start for those families that want it, and Peep Learning Together groups to promote a strong Home Learning environment.
The emergence of COVID-19 has resulted in some of the Growing Minds services being provided using a range of virtual/arms-length methods, and this study is evaluating how these new types of delivery method have been received by families in different circumstances, in addition to exploring the perspectives of service providers and recipients regarding the impact of COVID-19 and lockdown on Growing Minds families and on the home learning environment, in addition to their uptake and experience of other types of virtual/arm’s length support during this time.