Children taking part in the innovative Boromi Play Libraries scheme funded by SHINE experienced an average 25 percentage-point change in their communication skills during the last school year, evaluators have found.
Boromi, which won its creator Evie Keough a Let Teachers SHINE award in 2019, empowers parents to support and nurture their child’s early development through meaningful play. Through Boromi’s Play Libraries, parents are able to freely borrow play bags from school and take them home to explore together.
The SHINE-funded evaluation, carried out by education impact specialists ImpactEd, found an improvement in children’s communication, language, oracy and cognitive development that was statistically significant, and that the changes were likely an effect of Boromi.
The evaluation also concluded that, of the children taking part in the project, there was a statistically significant change in average scores for children’s social and emotional development from 2021 to 2023. Researchers say this indicates the positive effect of Boromi’s play bags on children’s development.
Meanwhile, focus group discussions showed that several parents and teachers observed an improvement in children’s resilience and their ability to share with their siblings at home. This suggests that engagement with the play bags could promote positive behaviour in their interactions with siblings and peers.
I’m incredibly proud of what this evaluation shows us about the impact of Boromi.
Numerous parents also benefitted from the use of the play bags. During focus groups, individual parents reported that the play bags empowered them to actively engage in their child’s learning process. By exploring the bags together and participating in the play activities, these parents gained insights into their child’s interests and learning preferences. This led them to devise new play ideas and activities outside of the bags, tailoring learning opportunities to their child’s individual needs.
A measurement of the quality of learning made at home through Boromi showed a statistically significant positive change, suggesting Boromi had a positive impact on the quality of learning activities that parents felt they could perform with preschool children.
In addition, numerous teacher feedback surveys reported that parental accessibility and engagement were positively affected by the programme being offline and largely physical. These teachers increasingly viewed the play bags as offering a positive and accessible activity for parents and their children.
Evie said: “I’m incredibly proud of what this evaluation shows us about the impact of Boromi.
“Originally launching in September 2019, Covid school closures halted our project after only a few months. However, after a couple of false starts, we were able to re-launch in September 2021 and complete the two-year project successfully.
“Until now, we have only been able to begin to evidence our impact upon teachers and parents, and at a fairly simplistic level. But now, for the first time and thanks to the support from SHINE, to work in partnership with the expertise of ImpactEd, we have been able to more rigorously look at the impact of Boromi not only upon parents but – most importantly – upon children and their emotional and social development as well as communication and language.”
We are so pleased to see the results from this two-year evaluation of the use of Boromi. Learning at home is crucial for children’s education and we are delighted to support Evie as she works to ensure high-quality resources and meaningful play activities are available to all.
Evie admitted: “As the evaluation process progressed, I definitely started to feel quite vulnerable because, while we have consistently seen the impact first-hand, we didn’t have much hard evidence to prove it. And you are really putting your neck out on the line and standing behind something you believe in.
“But I’m really proud of the results and the data that have come out of the last two years. It’s been a long time to wait for that information, so I am over the moon that it does confirm the promise and the impact that we believed it had.
“The process of setting up the evaluation project itself has been so helpful. There’s so much learning that we have already taken on board to continue moving forwards and make Boromi even better.
“We are absolutely not under the illusion that Boromi is perfect, nor ever will be! We are a learning organisation and there are always ways we can improve.
“The evaluation has been the perfect tool for this, providing us with tangible next steps that we can work on over the short and long term.
“There is a huge amount of progress and change happening at the moment that’s really exciting. We are working hard to take Boromi to the next level, by working in partnership with other charities, and, while keeping schools at the heart of what we do, also developing our new community-based model launching early 2024.”
SHINE’s Interim CEO Dr Helen Rafferty said, “We are so pleased to see the results from this two-year evaluation of the use of Boromi. Learning at home is crucial for children’s education and we are delighted to support Evie as she works to ensure high-quality resources and meaningful play activities are available to all.
“We look forward to continuing to work with Boromi and seeing everything it can achieve in the future.”