‘Ready to Learn’ (RTL) was an innovative programme at Barnardos Northern ireland with a long-term outcome of raising achievement. The programme had two key components: (1) for children – a literacy-rich After School programme for one hour after school, three days per week; (2) for parents / carers – a range of activities and support to help them engage in and support their child’s learning.

Ready to Learn was run as a voluntary, universal After School club for pupils in the participating year group. A great deal of thought was given to making Ready to Learn look and feel different, and not just ‘another hour of school’. Read more about the Ready To Learn programme in the report below. 

In 2008 The Centre for Effective Education at Queen's University Belfast was commissioned Barnardo’s Northern Ireland to carry out a baseline survey to provide evidence for the development of the 'Ready to Learn' strategy. The aim of the RTL service was to promote educational attainment and positive child development for disadvantaged children in Northern Ireland. Quantitative data from this baseline survey have been made available in the Irish Social Science Data Archive, with funding from the Prevention and Early Intervention Research Intiative at the Children's Research Network (2016-18). 

The baseline survey was conducted of 1081 Year 4 and Year 7 pupils in 28 primary schools randomly selected from across Northern Ireland, to provide quality data on the distribution of educational outcomes and indicators of well-being among Year 4 and Year 7 children, particularly in schools that had low educational attainment and were located in deprived areas. Participants completed questionnaires assessing physical and psychological well-being, social acceptance, peer relationships, school environment, self-esteem, enjoyment of education and aspirations for the future. Key Stage Maths and English scores were also captured. The survey aimed to determine how these outcomes relate together and what socio-demographic variables might be associated with these and identify levels of need in relation to the outcomes in order to aid Barnardo's in deciding where best to target their intervention.