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‘Welcome Sesame’ – Friday Insights (21 Jun)

Caitlin Ross, 21/06/19

Our impact manager, Caitlin, brings you another Friday insights round-up of sector and project news to see out the week:

In a week occupied by Big Change’s current project finding process in full swing and loads of the media space being dedicated to the next Prime Minister race – Here’s what caught my attention this week:

The latest in Pupil Premium guidance

This week, theEducation Endowment Foundation came out with some recommendations on how pupil premium should be spent – its new guidance says that effective teaching should be the top priority for pupil premium spend.  According to the guidance, spend on ‘effective teaching’ can mean everything from spending on professional development, training and support for early career teachers and recruitment and retention. According to EEF, “Ensuring an effective teacher is in front of every class, and that every teacher is supported to keep improving, is the key ingredient of a successful school and should rightly be the top priority for pupil premium spending.” 

This guidance is also significant because it means that the ongoing debate about whether pupil premium (introduced in 2011 with the aims of raising attainment for disadvantaged students) can be spent in ways that also benefits other groups of students got a definitive answer – yes, it can.
We’re all for support for teachers so they can be the agents of change that our education and learning systems need – we also recognise that levelling the playing field for underserved students in education is a complex issue that requires a networked solution and deep understanding. We’re keen to learn from our network and project partners here – what do you think of pupil premium, its aims, and the new EEF guidance?

Early childhood development for refugees – a case study

Did you know that Thursday, June 20th was World Refugee Day? Did you also know that the number of people displaced by violence reached over 70 million last year? Furthermore, currently, 31 million children worldwide have experienced crisis and displacement at a young age.

This has lasting effects on early childhood development, which is why International Rescue Committee and Sesame Workshops have teamed up to deliver the biggest early childhood intervention in humanitarian history, focusing its programs on children and their carers to develop the cognitive skills and social/emotional skills of over one million children over the next five years.

Quality ECD programs can reverse some of the harmful effects of conflict and displacement, and there are even linkages between quality ECD programs and violence prevention – however, ECD is often not a priority in humanitarian intervention. The new IRC and Sesame Workshops intervention, called ‘Ahlan Simsim’ (Welcome Sesame in Arabic), hopes to change this by encouraging the humanitarian aid system to focus more on evidence-based educational opportunities for children. The program hopes to do this by making a few key shifts in the way ECD is delivered:

  • Deepening the definition of scale – it’s not just about growing an individual project, it needs to be about embedding ECD into local and national systems so that more children have access to quality ECD
  • Shifting focus to deepen impact – ECD interventions need to focus on understanding and strengthening key environmental drivers that enable an innovation to take root and spread, including the political economies of the countries in which they are working
  • Develop a cyclical approach to delivery – create a deliberate focus on the entire innovation-learning-scaling cycle, along with using data for continuous learning and improvement

We look forward to following the progress of the Ahlan Simsim program – though the contexts are different, we’re certain that there will be a lot of learnings that can be applied to bolstering early development and parental engagement here in the UK.