Early years barometer can improve children's lives

An internationally-recognised tool to measure children’s readiness for school has been adapted for use in Scotland by a University of Strathclyde academic.

The Early Development Instrument (EDI) has been tested across the East Lothian Council area in a pilot project led by the University’s Professor Lisa Woolfson, and Professor John Frank, of the Scottish Collaboration for Public Health Research and Policy, in conjunction with East Lothian Council and NHS Lothian.

The primary school-based tool serves as a barometer of how well parents, neighbourhoods and communities are providing the early years support children need for optimum development.

It's hoped the EDI could be used by councils, as well as family and health services, in order to direct resources, like parenting programmes, to where they're needed most.

There are currently few means in Scotland by which inequalities in child development can be measured at a local and national level.

Professor Woolfson, an educational psychologist and Head of the School of Psychological Sciences and Health, said:

"The early years of a child’s life are absolutely crucial to both their future development and their ability to learn when they start school. When children fall behind, it can be very difficult for them to catch up.

 "The EDI aims to provide a powerful mapping tool to help communities understand strengths and identify gaps in their early years support services provision, including libraries, parenting classes and health clinics.

"The tool is designed to allow public health bodies, councils, schools and social workers to share information to make best use of precious resources.”