Bradford OA Intervention – Glasses in Classes
Reading, writing, and communicating with confidence are essential skills for life, learning and work. Disadvantaged children on average fare worse than their peers in this regards. CAER used Born in Bradford data and found that poor eyesight could be contributing to the attainment gap with the problems clustering in schools serving deprived areas with high numbers of children from ethnic minority backgrounds. The glasses in classes project focuses on children’s eyesight screened in schools, and the effect of adherence to spectacle wear on visual acuity and developing literacy following vision screening at age 4-5 years. The project was designed after focus groups allowed the researchers to listen to parents of children who have difficulty supporting their children with glasses wear. This ‘qualitative’ research revealed that many parents did not know how to access health services, were unaware that there were no financial implications for attending the eye service, did not realise the importance of wearing glasses in childhood, or had chaotic lives that made it hard for them to encourage their child to obtain and wear glasses.
In the UK, it is recommended that all children receive an eyesight test in their Reception year. This is provided by health services and results are shared with families, but the schools are not made aware of the results of the test. Unfortunately, many parents do not follow up on the results of the vision screening and this results in over 2,500 children in Bradford not getting the glasses they need. The Born in Bradford data showed that this had the potential to have a negative effect on children’s reading and general attainment levels, as demonstrated by the conclusions drawn from the following study. If a child is struggling in the classroom setting with their vision, and this is not addressed or remains unidentified, it unfairly penalises that child and impacts upon their progress when compared to their peers. CAER found that schools were well positioned to support children to obtain and wear their glasses.
Funded by the EEF, CAER are running a 100 school RCT across Bradford primaries. This ensures that children who fail an eye test are given two pairs of glasses including one for school (as discussed earlier, outside of this programme, schools are unaware which children have failed an eye test), with the aim of improving children’s literacy rates. Fifty percent of schools were randomly allocated to receive the intervention and 50% acted as comparators.
Children in the ‘intervention’ schools who need glasses receive two pairs; the child’s own pair to be worn as directed by the optometrist (usually constantly) and a second pair which are sent and kept within the school.
The existing evidence suggests that attempts to increase how much children wear glasses can have positive impacts on academic attainment. Early literacy is associated with the level of VA; children who adhere to spectacle wear improve their VA and also have the potential to improve literacy. Evidence further suggests failure to adhere to spectacle wear has implications for the child’s vision and education.
Since 2019, CAER has received DfE funding to the total of £1,660,050 which we have been able to leverage to bring in a further £3.5 million for activities relating to removing health barriers to learning and CAER. The DfE funding has supported the development of feasibility studies that we have been able to use to attract funding for Randomised Control Trials and scale up of successful programmes (see below for some examples of other projects). The financial benefits of the programmes have been calculated by health economists as greater than twice the cost of the interventions.