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Title: Educational achievement, children in care and book-gifting programmes : a randomised controlled trial study of the Letterbox Club in Northern Ireland
Author: Mooney, Jennifer Rosemary
ISNI:       0000 0004 6058 9371
Awarding Body: Queen's University Belfast
Current Institution: Queen's University Belfast
Date of Award: 2016
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Considerable evidence clearly demonstrates the poor educational outcomes faced by children in care. Whilst a number of interventions exist in order to address this problem, the evidence base for their effectiveness remains very limited. This thesis provides a critical review of the existing literature on the education of children in care and efforts which address their poor outcomes. The thesis moves on to report a case study evaluation of one popular intervention that has emerged over the last decade aimed at improving the literacy, numeracy and wellbeing outcomes of children in care - The Letterbox Club. This intervention involves sending parcels to children. Parcels are sent once a month, for six months, to the child’s current address, and contain a fiction book, a non-fiction book, a maths game and stationary items. The thesis uses a mixed method design. The trial involved 116 children, who were tested both before and after receiving the parcels, and were tested for a variety of outcomes. The trial found no evidence that the Letterbox Club had any effect on the children who participated compared to a matched control group. The qualitative process evaluation included data from children, carers and the programme creator and explored reading practices and the use of the parcels in the home. Overall, this study is one of the first of its type to use robust methods to evaluate the effectiveness of an intervention for children in care. Drawing upon ecological theories, the thesis helps develop current understanding of book gifting programmes and their impact. The thesis suggests that reading development is an individualised process, and so a one size fits all approach may not be beneficial for those who have failed to engage with learning and reading. Additionally, the thesis highlights that carer involvement is extremely important for children in care.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available