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RESEP researchers Heleen Hofmeyr and Nic Spaull recently launched the Roots & Shoots study, a longitudinal research study funded by the Mr Price Foundation that aims to track learners from when they first enter school until the end of the Foundation Phase. The project was launched at STIAS on the 24th of June 2022, where the results from the Baseline Report were shared with researchers, policymakers and practitioners working in early childhood development and basic education.

Using the ELOM 4&5 tool, Grade R learners in 75 schools in the Western Cape were assessed in terms of their readiness to take on the formal Grade R curriculum. The baseline results point to a strong association between school readiness and socio-economic status, with learners in no-fee and low-fee schools being much more likely to be falling behind developmentally than their counterparts in schools charging higher fees. A key aim of the Roots & Shoots study is to investigate how these inequalities at the start of Grade R translate into later learning outcomes.

Roots & Shoots is the first study in South Africa that will collect information on children at the start of formal schooling (Term 1 Grade R) and follow the same learners through the Foundation Phase. The data collected through the project will allow us to determine for the first time how much of the inequality in learning outcomes observed in later grades can be traced back to inequalities in school readiness that were already present at the start of formal schooling.

Find out more about the Roots & Shoots project here.