Maria Evangelou*, Greg Brooks**, Sally Smith* and Denise Jennings* *University of Oxford, ** University of Sheffield
An introduction to the Peers Early Education Partnership (PEEP) and the Birth to School Study (BTSS) The Peers Early Education Partnership (PEEP) is a birth to 5 intervention programme that aims to improve the life chances of children from a disadvantaged area of Oxford by raising their educational achievement. From 1998 to 2004, PEEP was the subject of a long-term evaluation, the Birth to School Study (BTSS). The main aim of the BTSS was to investigate the effects of PEEP on the children and families from the community it served. Embedded within this aim were dual objectives: to determine if the intervention had an effect within the community as a whole and simultaneously, to determine whether it had an effect on the particular families who participated in the PEEP weekly sessions. The foci of these objectives were parental outcomes related to aspects of parent-child relationships, quality of the care-giving environment and maternal mental health and child outcomes related to cognitive and socioemotional development. The six year span of the study afforded the opportunity to measure effects year by year from ages 1 to 5, and to measure the rates of progress of each group of children between the different points in time.
The effects of PEEP on parents PEEP parents, compared to similar parents with no access to the programme, reported a significantly enhanced view of their parent-child interaction when the children were 1 year of age. When the children were age 2, PEEP parents were also rated significantly higher on the quality of their care-giving environment. Parents living in the PEEP community were rated as providing a significantly higher care-giving environment when their children were age 2, compared to parents living in an area where PEEP was not available. The effects of PEEP on the cognitive development of children PEEP children, compared to similar children from an area with no access to the programme, scored significantly lower on general cognitive and language outcomes collected at ages 2 and 4. At ages of 3 and 5, there were no significant differences between the two groups. However, PEEP children, compared to a similar group of children with no access to PEEP, made significantly greater progress between the ages of 2 and 4, 2 and 5 and 4 and 5 in a cluster of skills related to future literacy success. These included vocabulary, phonological awareness of rhyme and alliteration, letter identification, understanding of books and print and writing. Children living in the PEEP community, compared to a similar group of children with no access to PEEP, scored significantly lower on a range of general cognitive, language and literacy skills at ages 2, 3, 4 and 5. Despite these early disadvantages, the same children made significantly greater progress in a similar cluster of literacy skills as above, between the ages of 2 and 5 and 4 and 5, though these were in a slightly reduced number of outcomes and showed smaller effect sizes. The effects of PEEP on the socio-emotional development of children There were no significant differences at ages 2, 3 and 4 to either PEEP children, or to comparison children with no access to PEEP, on a range of socio-emotional outcomes. The picture changed when self-esteem was measured for the first time at age 5. At this point, PEEP children showed an advantage in 5 out of 7 possible sub-scales on the self-esteem measure. PEEP children, compared to a similar group of children with no access to PEEP, showed no significant advantages in their progress in socio-emotional development.
What is PEEP?
When PEEP began in 1995, it was conceived primarily as a literacy programme with an expanding focus on numeracy, self-esteem and