Peep Learning Together Programme
The Intervention – Peep Learning Together Programme (LTP)
Peep Learning Together Programme supports parents and carers to build positive attachments with their children and improve the quality of home learning environment. Peep Learning Together is an adult learning programme that aims to strengthen parent - child relationships and improve the home learning environment by valuing and extending everyday learning opportunities. It is a universal programme but can be targeted for use within areas of higher socio-economic disadvantage and/or for families facing additional challenges. The programme contains 74 child development topics, covering 5 strands of learning; Personal, social and emotional development, Communication and language, Early literacy, Early numeracy and Health and physical development, with the aim of improving child outcomes in each of these areas. The programme is designed for parents and carers of children of 0 – 5 years to learn together. To access further information about the Peep Learning Together Programme click here.
The organisation that developed the Peep Learning Together programme is called Peeple. They offer support with implementation and training to sites across the UK.
The Service – City of Edinburgh Local Authority
The City of Edinburgh Council has been implementing Peep Learning Together through Lifelong Learning Parent and Carer Support Team since 2015. Parent and Carer Support Development Officer, Sue Cameron has been coordinating staff training in Peep Learning Together for the City of Edinburgh Council and has trained approximately 120 staff to date. Sue is also the direct link, for the City of Edinburgh Council with Peeple charity. Staff working in Early Years and Lifelong Learning are trained and deliver the groups in their establishments. Two of these trained practitioners are Carol Thabet, Early Years Officer at Fox Covert Early Years Centre and Jacqueline Evans, Early Years Officers at Greendykes Early Years Centre. Jacqueline has been delivering Peep LTP groups since 2015 and Carol have been delivering since 2018. Both Carol and Jacqueline run regular groups either throughout the school term, in 6-week blocks or as drop ins. Groups are run for a range of ages and will target specific developmental ages, what age and stage a group is run for depends on the needs of the identified families. Also, the day and time of each run of groups will vary depending on the needs of the families referred. They try to vary when the groups are run so as to be as accessible to as many parents as possible.
NEED – Making the Decision about Peep Learning Together Programme
Programme Selection: In the City of Edinburgh Peep was first implemented by an Educational Psychologist, initially targeting families with a higher level of need or whose child required additional support to meet their developmental milestones. It was decided that the programme would be rolled out across early years as a universal programme as the initial Peep programme was well received and practitioners and families were seeing positive outcomes. The shift in coordination of the programme to the Parent and Carer Support Team, coincided with an updated Peep Learning Together Programme being launched in 2015. Sue explained that when she took on the Peep role, she did a mapping exercise to identify which early years establishments and school nurseries and partnership establishments had staff trained and available to deliver the programme. This enabled the identification of establishments requiring access to training and developing a planned approach to building capacity throughout the city. It also enabled the identification and prioritisation of areas of high need, such as those with low availability of community provisions.
Intended outcome: Sue explained that ultimately the aim of the programme is to improve the home learning environment by increasing parents’ understanding and confidence to support their child’s early learning and attachment relationships.
The programme focuses on 5 main strands of learning, and through these strands and the resulting interactions from implementing the programme, they aim to help support parents to improve the home learning environment by valuing and extending everyday learning opportunities. Peep is a strength-based approach and the programme is underpinned by a set of principles. Sue explained that Peep recognised that the biggest influence on children’s outcomes are the quality of relationships and quality time spent with children. Through the Peep sessions and by spending time interacting with their child, parents will develop greater knowledge of child development and ensure that they have realistic expectations about their child’s developmental milestones. In addition, the activities involve learning through everyday activities, which aims to make it accessible for all, as there is not the requirement for lots of resources to be available.
Jacqueline and Carol have observed a range of outcomes for families after attending Peep Learning Together. They have seen how parents are able to incorporate their learning in the sessions to the home environment. In sessions they are able to reinforce parents’ interactions with their child and help them to see the impact these interactions have on their child’s learning. They help parents build on their strengths and on what they already know and are doing with their child. They have observed how parents were able to take a step back and see their interactions with their child from a different perspective, they are able to develop a different understanding of their child’s feelings and identify new opportunities for learning in everyday interactions. They both have observed changes in the children in the centre after attending Peep sessions, for example some children appeared more confident or more able to express their feelings more effectively.
FIT – How Does Peep Learning Together Programme fit within Edinburgh City?
Fit with local and national priorities: Peep Learning Together maps into many of the national, and Edinburgh’s local, guidelines and frameworks for children and young people. For example, Supporting Parents and Carers in Edinburgh Framework for Practitioners, the Pre-birth to Three Framework, Early Years Framework and the national Realising the Ambition Framework. The aim of the Peep programme to promote children’s early learning and development fits with the Scottish Governments initiative Raising Attainment across Scotland and the Pupil Equity Fund.
Fit with existing programmes: Peep Learning Together also fits well with other initiatives on offer across the city, such as the offer of parenting programmes; Triple P and the Incredible Years Preschool Basic programme which are coordinated by Lifelong Leaning Parent and Carer Support. The programme is well placed to be delivered within Early Years establishments and community settings, with staff in the establishments able to engage families in the programme and deliver it in a familiar environment by familiar people. Early Years establishments across City of Edinburgh Council are committed to supporting parents to build on the home learning environment and confidence of children, and so the programme fit well with this aim.
Fit with the local community: Within the local communities where Jacqueline and Carol work, they thought Peep LTP was a good fit. Within their communities there are many families who feel isolated, are young and many single parents, they also have referrals to work with families who are involved with Social Work. Peep Learning Together programme can help parents feel connected to the Family Centre and helps them develop connections with other parents. Peep can also be delivered out in the local community to families who do not have children in the early years centre, making it more accessible and able to reach a greater number of families. Jacqueline explained that her Early Years Centre delivers some groups out in the community, in church halls and schools, as a way of making it accessible to other families. When it is delivered in this way it is usually co-lead by another professional such as a Health Visitor. Peep LTP, they feel, is a very accessible programme and is adaptable and responsive to the needs of different families. The topics covered in groups are dependent on the needs of the families referred and families are given control once groups start, they are given the opportunity to choose what topics are covers.
SUPPORTS – What Supports do Peeple Provide?
Training: There is a 2-day training in order to become a Peep Learning Together practitioner. Sue is trained to deliver this training and does this twice a year to staff within Edinburgh Council, to enable capacity to deliver to be maintained and developed. Sue’s training to become a trainer required one additional day’s training.
Staff selection: Peeple support sites with guidance on staff selection (if requested). Within Edinburgh, Sue supports managers to select the most appropriate staff, and ensures that the managers have given their fully informed consent for their staff member, not just to be trained, but to be given dedicated time to deliver the programme. She also confirms that there is capacity within settings for this to happen.
Building Staff Competence: As a trainer, Sue receives ongoing support from Peeple to help develop her competency as a trainer. This involves an annual training supervision meeting. Peeple Scottish Development Manager will observe a training and provide feedback about engagement of the audience and whether all topics were covered. There are also a number of informal networks and supports which can be accessed by trainers which are facilitated through Peeple. Trainers are invited to attend Trainers Quality Assurance Meetings with Peeple twice a year.
With regards to Sue’s support for local practitioners, she explained that there were no formal coaching or supervision requirements from Peeple, but she offers delivery support to practitioners when needed. This involves meeting with newly trained practitioners to support their planning and early delivery and maintaining regular contact with practitioners to offer support with any challenges they face, allowing them opportunity to reflect, problem solve and develop solutions. Carol and Jacqueline noted that this support from a trainer is very helpful in developing their confidence early on in their practice. They also use the paperwork available from Peeple to help reflect on each group. This session evaluation form helps them to review and reflect on the session, identify any learning needs of families and any required follow ups or additional supports required for families.
There is a more formal process of coaching for practitioners undertaking accreditation, for practitioners going through this process Sue has to conduct an observation of their practice and evidence their skills from the observation. Sue noted that many practitioners tell her that achieving their accreditation helps to enhance their confidence in their practice and provides a measure of quality assurance. Carol explained that she undertook the City and Guilds accreditation and the support and feedback from Sue was very valuable and helped develop her understanding of the concepts that underpinning her practice. Going through this process also helped her develop her skills and confidence.
Data & Administration Systems: Sue highlighted her experience of excellent communication and accessible support from Peeple when requested. Edinburgh have designed local data and administration processes. This includes a data system to record the data returned by practitioners, however Peeple have offered her advice and resources around data collection and evaluation.
Measuring Impact: Peeple have an evaluation tool that the practitioners use to measure impact and Sue has developed a summary sheet that practitioners also complete after each term. They record, and return information about the number of families attending, which learning strands were covered and why, any specific outcomes reported from parents or observed by the practitioners and any verbal feedback from parents around things such as their improved knowledge or confidence. Practitioners also record if they have signposted parents to other services and what they were. Sue produces a report based on the information gathered from the Peeple measure and summary sheets from practitioners for the annual report. Sue explained that they have a training agreement with Peeple and as part of this agreement must send an annual report to them.
Financing: City of Edinburgh Council has a training agreement with Peeple, resulting in a reduction of the cost of delivering a training. Sue receives funding for this twice a year from the Senior Education Manager.
Referral and recruitment: Referral and recruitment guidance is given during the Peep Learning Together programme training. In addition, the Peeple website offers guidance around delivery support and informal online support from Peeple is also available if requested.
Within the Early Years Centres families are identified and encouraged to attend Peep sessions through children’s key workers. Families also talk to each other about the groups and will sign up to groups based on word of mouth. For groups delivered out with the nursey, families can be referred from colleagues working in the local community for example Health Visitors. Carol and Jacqueline noted that parents often engage as they have identified a need that the group topic will meet for them.
USABILITY - What was Edinburgh City’s experience of implementing Peep LTP?
Sue said that the programme resources and online delivery support are available to trained practitioners from the Peeple website and the programme is well operationalised, guiding practitioners through the learning strand topics and session plans and supporting materials. The website also includes research, policy links, case studies and delivery support ideas.
Carol and Jacqueline noted that the Peep programme resources are very accessible, they are well organised and minimise the time needed to spend on planning and review. The guidance around each topic is very good and the resources, such as the handouts and home activities are invaluable for parents.
Modifiable components: Sue noted that the topics all have key ideas that need to be communicated to the parents through talking with parents and reflecting back observations. Resources can be adapted as long as the key ideas in each topic are being covered. Each topic session plan describes key ideas that should be communicated to parents through a ‘message, question and activity’; talking with parents and reflecting to them. Sue said that its important this is done by valuing what parents already do by using strengthen based communication and group work skills.
Within the Early Years Centres’ Carol and Jacqueline explained that each Peep session focuses on a topic strand, these are chosen based on the identified needs of those parents attending the group. Then within the group, the activities covered are based on what the parents would like to do as well as what the learning from one week was, this is taken forward and built on in the next session.
Fidelity: There is no formal fidelity measure for Peep Learning Together. Sue explained that the importance of delivering with fidelity is discussed during the training and that the materials are online and can only be accessed and delivered by trained practitioners. There are session plans available that practitioners should use and that practitioners should be working within the ORIM (Opportunity, Recognition, Interaction and Modelling) framework, utilising each of these skills in every session and openly discussing this with the families they are working with. Practitioners are required to share all the session key components in order to ensure fidelity of the programme.
CAPACITY – What is required to deliver Peep LTP
In Edinburgh about 90 Peep groups are delivered each year with an average of about 6 sessions in each group. This equates to about 900 parents accessing a group in a year. This number can fluctuate but the aim in Edinburgh is to continue to have capacity for practitioners to deliver around 90 groups a year. These numbers require that each Early Years settings aim to deliver a Peep group twice a year.
Currently approximately 120 staff are trained to deliver Peep LTP sessions in Edinburgh City. Sue noted that some settings deliver groups with one practitioner but that ideally, they would have 2 staff running a session. When putting staff forward for training Sue discusses, with Heads of Service, whether staffing will be a barrier to delivery and ensures a commitment from them to enabling the practitioner to deliver.
Staff prerequisites/experience: Within Edinburgh Council, the practitioners involved are predominantly Early Years Officers and Early Years Practitioners. There are no prerequisites to training.
Time commitment: Sue reported that one of the main challenges for staff is making time to prepare and plan for sessions and gather resources. After each session practitioners complete the review and reflection sheets. There are no requirements for additional staff such as an Administrator, the administration for the practitioners is minimal.
Carol and Jacqueline explained that the sessions take 1 hour to deliver and on top of this time they require about another hour throughout the week to prepare for the groups and review after. Both thought it was important, when staffing permitted, to get time away from the centre floor to review the session as soon as possible after it has taken place. They described the need to be flexible in when this time was taken but to ensure it was taken, especially for new practitioners who are less familiar with the programme and the resources.
Sue advised new sites implementing Peep Learning Together programme that it is vital to know your area, train the appropriate staff and ensure there is availability of suitable venues to deliver the programme. She also noted that it is important to have the backing of your leadership groups to make implementation a success and that it can be important to write the delivery of Peep Learning Together programme into local frameworks as this can keep the programme on the agenda and sure its continued delivery. Sue thought that it is also good idea to have a Peep champion in each centre, someone who can support others and continually promote the importance of parental engagement.
Carol and Jacqueline advised practitioners new to Peep Learning Together to utilise the resources and session plans for fidelity of the programme, and to ensure they protect time for planning and reflection. They also thought it is beneficial to ensure you have protected time with a senior member of staff for support and time to reflect on the group.
Carol and Jacqueline thought it was important to remember to be yourself with families, have fun, be positive and friendly and to use humour during groups as this can be an effective tool to help everyone feel at ease. For any challenges around group dynamics it was advised that groups guidelines are developed during the first group session and referred to often.
Carol and Jacqueline thought the strengths of the programme were the resources and how adaptable the programme is to the needs of the families in each group and how effective it can be for parents and their children.
They acknowledged that parents tell them it works, they can see the parents and children learning together, which can be very rewarding as they watch relationships grow in the group, skills of the parents develop, and the children learn. They described it as lovely to watch.
Peep Progression Pathway – Sue noted that the Peep Progression Pathway which is embedded within Peep Learning Together gives parents the opportunity to earn SCQF credit units rated by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) by working through a unit alongside Peep topics. Parents must have a qualified Assessor to support them through the unit. These units formally recognise the learning which is already occurring within a Peep session. Sue explained that parents working towards these formal qualifications build their literacy and own learning potential and confidence. Parents can work towards 3 credit-based units which provides building blocks towards achieving qualification and will give them an automatic interview for formal education at Edinburgh College. Within City of Edinburgh Council, Lifelong Learning offers this in one setting to parents. Sue said that in her experience parents gaining SCQF units often go onto further education and employment or they go onto engage in further parenting interventions.