The Fundació Bofill will promote 3 educational support projects aimed at boosting the effectiveness of the Minimum Vital Income

  • Educational success is a factor which offers protection against social exclusion in disadvantaged children and adolescents.
  • Socio-educational support programmes for vulnerable students are high-impact interventions backed by evidence that reinforces the effectiveness of the Minimum Vital Income (IMV).
  • The Fundació Bofill and Caterina Calsamiglia, ICREA researcher at IPEG, will implement and evaluate three high-impact pilot programmes: Lecxit, Math Tutoring and Pentabilities.
  • Lecxit and Math Tutoring are two programmes for tutoring and catch-up sessions in reading and mathematics, aimed at students who are in a state of social and educational vulnerability at primary school level.
  • Pentabilities is a socio-emotional learning programme to enhance the social and personal skills of those in Compulsory Secondary Education.
  • The initiative is one of the winning proposals selected by the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration through an open call for social action organisations, and regional and local administrations to put forward proposals.
  • The pilot uses a one-off sum of €12.5 million from the Next Generation fund, to promote and assess the impact of three programmes dedicated to vulnerable children and adolescents.

Barcelona, 17 May 2022

Living in poverty severely jeopardises the education, care and additional school support of students from low-income families. Students from low-income families therefore tend to have lower academic grades and are more likely to drop out of school early and be unemployed.

Income transfer policies such as the Minimum Living Income (IMV) greatly improve the educational conditions of children and young people in low-income families. These are therefore measures that can improve the educational opportunities of the students. Research shows that injecting financial resources into low-income families helps children and young people improve their school results, as long as these transfer of income programmes are backed up by educational support programmes.

Commitment to socio-educational support programmes for vulnerable students reinforces the effectiveness of the IMV and improves educational trajectories.

When these two factors are combined, a substantial improvement in educational trajectories is achieved (repeating the school year is minimised, there is a reduction of school dropout rates and an improvement of basic skills) and greater access to life opportunities, thus breaking the vicious circle of poverty. In essence, opting for socio-educational support programmes for vulnerable students reinforces the effectiveness of the Minimum Vital Income.

Next Generation, an opportunity to boost and evaluate the impact of programmes aimed at vulnerable children and adolescents

The Fundació Bofill, together with a research team led by Professor Caterina Calsamiglia, will implement and evaluate three socio-educational support programmes aimed at more than 10,300 students from high and very high complexity schools with a large concentration of IMV recipients.

The goal of the pilot is to demonstrate that educational support programmes enhance the effectiveness of the IMV. To do this, the Foundation will promote Lecxit, Math Tutoring and Pentabilities, three socio-educational support projects to be developed in 2022 and 2023. Lecxit is a reading mentoring programme with 10 years’ experience; Math Tutoring consists of extracurricular tutoring in mathematics; and Pentabilities is a methodology for developing socio-emotional skills aimed at high school teachers in high and very high complexity schools.

The three programmes will focus on vulnerable students from all over Catalonia and two of the pilots (Lecxit and Pentabilities) will also be implemented in Andalusia and the cities of Ceuta and Melilla. These are Spanish territories in which a significant percentage of the population receives the IMV or other regional basic incomes.

The deployment of the three programmes will be accompanied by an impact assessment performed by a randomised controlled trial (RCT). This type of assessment compares the impact of a programme or intervention, between those who benefit from it and those who do not, aiming to control all the factors that may be affecting it. This allows us to know if an intervention is effective in solving a problem and to understand what is needed to improve it, as well as to compare programmes that are used to solve the same problem, to assess which ones work best. For this reason, RCT methodologies are a key part of building and driving forward evidence-based public policies.

The impact and result of the interventions will allow us to contribute to:

Creating a greater knowledge of social inclusion and socio-educational support policies for children linked to IMV that genuinely work.

Directing the spending policy of public administrations towards effective interventions which are endorsed by social research, thus contributing to increasing their impact.

Scaling and transferring knowledge of programmes to other territories, partners and administrations to integrate them into public policies against social exclusion, school failure and the poverty of the most vulnerable children and adolescents.

The initiative is the result of a collaboration agreement with the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration, through an open call for NextGeneration European funds from the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan. It calls on entities in the third sector of social action, autonomous communities and cities to provide proposals for innovative pilots for the development of agendas for social inclusion and their evaluation in different areas of action, including education. The pilot has been given €12.5 million over a period of 2 years; two thirds will be allocated to direct implementation (€5 million in Catalonia and €3 million in the other regions) and the rest of the budget (€4 million) will be devoted entirely to impact assessment. Other leading social sector entities and organisations such as the Fundació Catalana de l’Esplai, Càritas, Creu Roja and Ayuda en Acción will also lead projects to combat poverty and inequality.

Mentoring and tutoring to combat loss of learning

Combating poverty and educational inequality requires evidence-based interventions aimed at the most disadvantaged students, as various countries around us have done.

In the wake of the pandemic and amid widespread school disruptions around the world, intensive tutoring and mentoring programmes have emerged as a solution to combat COVID-19-related learning loss or learning loss suffered over the summer, in various different countries. It is mostly carried out through catch-up programmes in core competencies aimed at disadvantaged students, and specifically designed to improve academic performance in reading and mathematics.

Inspiring examples include the national socio-educational support programmes in England and the United States, among many others (including Holland, Italy and Portugal):

  • In England, the National Tutoring Programme offers highly personalised tutoring and mentoring programmes for students, specially designed and implemented to help the most disadvantaged students (Pupil Premium) whose education has been most affected by the pandemic (an investment of £350 million).
  • Reading and maths tutoring programmes through the American Corps (Reading corps, Math corps) and American Rescue Plan Funding, aimed at the most socially and economically deprived areas of the country because of the pandemic (an investment of $1 trillion).

Socio-educational support programmes for vulnerable students are high-impact interventions supported by evidence that reinforces the effectiveness of the IMV. The Education Endowment Foundation notes that, according to international research, there are two types of interventions aimed at children and adolescents at risk of exclusion that have the greatest impact on educational performance:

  • Regular tutoring and mentoring, individually or in small groups, to improve both skills (reading and maths) and student prospects.
  • Improving self-knowledge, metacognition, and social and emotional skills.

Lecxit and Math Tutoring: tutoring and educational catch-up sessions, aimed at vulnerable students

Educational research shows that tutoring is one of the most effective ways to raise the academic performance of students, especially the most disadvantaged students. Regular tutoring, individually or in small groups, has a high impact on educational outcomes as well as other positive learning effects (personal and transversal skills, bonding and the school environment, decreased absenteeism, etc.). These are actions aimed at protecting students from dropping out of school, which is especially virulent in children of low-income families.

The Education Endowment Foundation rates individual and small group tutoring as one of the most cost-effective educational practices, ahead of repeating a school year or reducing classroom ratios.

Why is the intervention aimed at high educational complexity schools and focuses on mathematics and reading? In Spain, a considerable part of the students belonging to families with few economic, social and cultural resources are concentrated in high complexity schools and display a lower level of reading competence and mathematical competence than students from high-income families.

The Socioeconomic and Cultural Index (ISEC) is one of the variables with the greatest influence on performance and scores in reading comprehension and mathematics of students in international tests such as TIMSS or PISA, done in our country.

For this reason, Lecxit and Math Tutoring are aimed at alleviating situations of socio-educational vulnerability aggravated by COVID-19, through the piloting and evaluation of two educational support programmes aimed at primary school students who need it most.

Two high-impact programmes, with two different trajectories:

  • LECXIT: Reading mentoring programme for 1 hour per week, done in reading pairs made up of one child and one volunteer. It aims to boost educational success by improving reading comprehension, ensuring that all students complete primary education with a level of competence that ensures their educational and social development.
  • MATH TUTORING: A mathematical tutoring and enrichment programme that combines weekly face-to-face tutoring in small groups (3-4 students) with an online platform. Its purpose is to provide an educational reinforcement programme with high quality content to complement the learning of mathematics. It can be used in free educational support spaces and is accessible to disadvantaged students.

Pentabilities enhances and strengthens social and personal skills in the classroom

Research in psychology, neuroscience and education has shown that social and personal skills have a direct impact on increasing educational expectations, as well as on the lives of individuals and societies. A deficiency in these areas is linked to greater school dropout rates, violence, addictions and mental illness.

The Education Endowment Foundation places the potential of socio-emotional development strategies, metacognition and self-knowledge as practices with very high and moderate impacts respectively, at a very low cost.

Socio-emotional development must be integrated into the other areas of learning. It must therefore be included in the teaching of curricular material, offering a wide range of contexts and opportunities for these skills to be worked on and demonstrated.

We know that improving these skills is the best investment for personal, social and educational success. There are two crucial moments for doing so: 0-3 years and during adolescence. Interventions such as Pentabilities, with an evidence-based methodology, pursue this goal, as it is aimed primarily at students in Compulsory Secondary Education.

PENTABILITIES is a programme which improves students’ social and emotional skills through a methodology that is integrated across the classroom and into the school curriculum. It is based on a series of social and personal competencies that form a common language so that teachers and students can understand, value, shape and develop these skills consciously and intentionally.

The programme contributes to:

  • The collection of evidence, by the teachers, of the development of the social and personal competences of the students, educating teachers to identify them and allowing them to give specific feedback (based on evidence).
  • Contrasting the socio-emotional competencies generated by the different learning strategies that teachers promote in the classroom and based on this knowledge, modifying them to improve the impact on students’ educational results.

A leading, independent team will lead the impact assessment

Caterina Calsamiglia will be the director of impact assessment of the pilot, in close collaboration with independent international research excellence organisations such as J-PAL, The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab and CEMFI. The research team will consist of Laura Navarro-Solà (IIES, PhD Northwestern), Giacomo de Giorgi (University of Geneva, PhD Stanford), Javier García-Brazales (of LEAP, University of Bocconi, PhD CEMFI), Davide Viviano (Stanford, PhD San Diego) and Annalisa Loviglio (Bologna, PhD UAB).

Calsamiglia is an ICREA researcher at the Institute of Political Economy and Governance (IPEG) at the Pompeu Fabra University and has a PhD in Economics from Yale University. Her research focuses on the design of public policies with a particular interest in education, and her career has included theoretical, experimental and empirical analysis. In recent years, she has led a research initiative to help develop Pentabilities through an ERC Starting Grant.

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