OVO Foundation tackling educational inequality in the UK through innovative programs

by Freya Lucas

November 05

UK Energy company, OVO Energy, through their philanthropic arm, the OVO Foundation, have recently announced the recipients of £240,000 (A$450,370) of funding over the next two years to three promising projects, all of which are designed to support children under the age of five.

 

The crux of all three projects is to address disadvantage in the earliest years of life, and in so doing, alter the trajectory of children’s outcomes. As shown in Australia through the Australian Early Development Census (AEDC), children who commence their schooling in a developmentally vulnerable position struggle to close the gap without support, which can lead to lifelong disadvantage.

 

Beginning from the premise that, like energy, education is one of life’s essentials the OVO Foundation has made a commitment to tackle educational inequality, one of three areas of focus for the Foundation. 

 

Following “an amazing response to a call for proposals”, the Foundation has boosted their support for projects that tackle educational inequality in the early years between the ages of zero and five years of age, supporting the following three projects: 

 

  • Doorstep Library, which provides a weekly reading and book lending service directly to family homes in deprived areas of London. They’ll now expand their current work supporting families with children up to the age of 5, including helping them find other local services that they could benefit from.

 

  • Parental Engagement Network (PEN) which helps to build effective relationships with parents and carers in early years settings, to help improve children’s literacy and school readiness. They’ll now scale up their school transition and home learning projects in Liverpool and expand to Trafford while helping to improve practitioners’ skills and embed the projects into each setting.

 

  • Tales Toolkit who provide online training and resources for educators to deliver play-based storytelling to children in early years settings in order to develop language, literacy and socioemotional skills. Supported by an expert team in parent engagement and learning from Goldsmiths, University of London, their project will train practitioners in Stockport, Rochdale and Newham (London) to engage and support families, so that they can use the resources with their children at home too. 

 

All three projects, the Foundation said, focus on communication and language, which is a crucial building block in children’s development and the key to both their wellbeing and learning. 

 

The projects are not limited to programs which cater for children who are engaging with education and care services, with holistic support being provided to engage parents in creating a positive home learning environment (HLE). The projects will all work through early years practitioners and volunteers sharing resources to collectively support families across the country.

 

The Foundation will also work with the Institute for Employment Studies (IES), the Sutton Trust and Professor Kathy Sylva from the University of Oxford to advise the projects on their monitoring and evaluation, making sure they lead the way in making educational inequality a thing of the past.

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