In collaboration with East Lothian Local Authority and McMaster University, Canada, SCPHRP and the Head of the School of Psychological Sciences and Health at Strathclyde University, Professor Lisa Woolfson, piloted a project to test the feasibility in Scotland of using a teacher-completed child-development questionnaire (the EDI).
This would be completed triennially for all children in Primary 1 (P1), four months after school entry, and would serve as a population-level tool to monitor the global developmental status and ’school readiness’ of each birth cohort aged 5 years. Extensive validation and use of this approach in Canada, and all of Australia (since 2009), has demonstrated that geographic and socio-economic patterns of EDI results, at the neighbourhood level, can be used by local communities to prioritize early childhood development challenges and effectively intervene on them, to improve school readiness within just a few years.
In turn, these improvements can be expected to improve these children’s life chances, health and functioning — and reduce inequalities in these outcomes — over the life-course. Phase 1 of the project (2011) showed that the majority of teachers found the Canadian-designed EDI to be acceptable and feasible, and only minor adjustments to terminology were required to adapt the EDI for the Scottish context.
During phase 2 (starting in January 2012), all 1200 P1 children in East Lothian were assessed by their 70 P1 teachers. This data wasanalysed, and disseminated to relevant stakeholders in East Lothian in summer 2012.
The project is currently in phase 3 where we are monitoring how the communities are using the results to inform local decision-making around early years’ services and resources.
The ultimate goal is to provide communities with knowledge about the global development of their children, thus allowing them to begin the process of rationalising existing, or creating new, early years services, support and programmes, and take collective responsibility for child outcomes.