PERU works to improve the evidence base which policy-makers can use to improve child wellbeing. Our research can be divided two strands: impact evaluations and longitudinal studies focusing on child wellbeing.

PERU undertakes rigorous evaluations of educational interventions, to determine their impact and to understand what works. As an independent evaluator for the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and other ‘What Works Centres’, we design and implement robust Randomised Controlled Trials, other types of counterfactual impact evaluation and impact feasibility studies and implementation evaluations.

PERU was involved in is the study of early education and development (SEED) in England, funded by the Department for Education. The project was undertaken in partnership with NetCen Social Research, the University of Oxford,Action for Children and Frontier Economics. Findings are referenced in the book Early Learning and Child Well-being in England’ and by the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY) in a submission to the Education Commission inquiry on life chances.

PERU has also been involved in a number of projects funded by the Education Endowment Fund (EEF). We evaluated the effectiveness of the Eedi formative assessment programme (an online assessment tool that helps maths teachers to identify and address pupil misconceptions) on raising attainment in maths. This was publicised in a news article by EEF. The Family Skills evaluation was also publicised in a news article, and also highlighted by Learning Unlimited, the organisation who led the Family Skills project. A further project funded by the EEF was the Digital Technology Evidence Review, in which PERU and ESRI were commissioned to review the evidence for the impact of digital technologies on attainment in schools. Not only has this had an academic impact (the review has been cited in multiple academic publications), it has been referenced in various blogs, including those by the CLC, Ability2Access and Third Space Learning. Moreover, a webinar by Derby Research School discussed the guidance report; the report was referenced in Planning for Digital Technology in Education by the Windsor Academy Trust; recommendations from the report were shared on Twitter by the EEF. This report has had a further impact in schools, where it has been used in strategy reports (for instance, Holy Cross Catholic Primary School in The Wirral).

More recently, PERU and AlphaPlus (funded by the EEF) published the Deeper Thinking pilot report, and a project exploring the effects of using examination grade as a primary outcome in education trials to evaluate school-based interventions has been completed this year. PERU is currently involved in additional projects, including evaluating the effectiveness of the SEND Review process on raising attainment in English, and secondary outcomes, and a PALs trial.

PERU has coordinated a series of projects funded by the European Commission, to develop what will be the largest social science infrastructure in Europe. This infrastructure, known as GUIDE (Growing up in Digital Europe: Eurocohort) will be the first comparative birth cohort survey, providing high quality longitudinal data to policymakers on the development of children’s wellbeing, from birth to aged 24 years. The work is ongoing, but the quality and importance of the work PERU is doing has been recognised: GUIDE has been included in the ESFRI Roadmap 2021.

The first phase of GUIDE, Measuring Youth Well-Being (MYWEB), explored the feasibility of conducting a longitudinal survey that would capture the growing-up process, starting from birth and running until the end of the child’s education. As a result of this, Pollock et al. published the book Measuring Youth Well-Being. IMYWEB is described as a ‘notable project’ in the book The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child: Taking Stock after 25 Years and Looking Ahead. In addition to academic publications and books, the project is referenced in the Toolkit for Schools and Colleges, by Public Health England.

The European Cohort Development Project built on the results of MYWEB by creating the infrastructure for GUIDE. COORDINATE, the most recent project, builds on the work done by both of the previous projects, with an aim to initiate the community of researchers and organisations that will drive the development of the survey. It is projected to be completed in 2025.

In addition to GUIDE, PERU also led the MiCREATE project: Migrant Children and Communities in a Transforming Europe. Also funded by the European Commission, the project adopts a child-centred approach to migrant children integration on an educational and policy level. The outcomes were presented at an online conference, and are also part of a European Toolkit for Schools, including a digital storytelling application and ‘Multiculurality in schools’, an app to raise awareness of ethnic diversity.

PERU worked on the MYPLACE project (Memory, Youth, Political Legacy and Civic Engagement). The aim of the project was to map the relationship between political heritage, current levels and forms of civic and political engagement of young people in Europe, and their potential receptivity to radical and populist political agendas. The impact of this for researchers included a number of published books and journal articles, research reports and the survey data set. For policymakers and practitioners, policy briefs, National policy publications and thematic reports were produced. In terms of the wider audience, MYPLACE research has contributed to public debate, including notably through two BBC Radio 4 Thinking Allowed shows (Weather forecasting, Young people and politics; The English Defence League; ‘Real’ immigrants).

Education, Childhood & Youth Projects

Evaluation of Primary Science Quality Mark in English Primary Schools

PERU with colleagues from ESRI have been awarded a grant from the Education Endowment Foundation to evaluate the Primary Science Quality Mark programme.

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Evaluation of Reading Plus in English Primary Schools

Along with colleagues in ESRI, Peru has been awarded a grant of £550k to evaluate the impact of Reading Plus on pupils in Year 6 of primary school.

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Understanding the intersections between ethnicity, care experience and youth justice involvement in England

The primary focus of this ADR UK (Administrative Data Research UK) Research Fellowship is to understand the links between care experience (i.e. having been in foster care, children’s homes and/or kinship care), ethnicity and involvement with the youth justice system in England.

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