I met Paul Perkins this week to talk about his work as the Director of the Winch. The Winch is a Camden based youth charity with a mission to inspire, challenge and affirm children and young people in building relationships, enriching the community and fulfilling their potential.

We talked about his ideas for integrating the services and influences for children from birth to employment. Looking specifically at how you measure and evaluate the effectiveness of different support along the way.

Here are some nuggets of inspiration that came from our conversation:

The Strive Partnership
Every Child, Every Step of the Way, From Cradle to Career
An organisation based in the US who is looking at how new collaborations between people can better support a child’s journey from birth to employment. There work has five goals, the first goal: Every child will be prepared for school.
There is some really interesting work looking at collective impact efforts across different organisations and service providers, which is useful as we start to form a list of possible indicators and methods of evaluation. What we are still searching for is some concrete and evidenced solutions which align to what it means to be ‘ready for school’. How do we know what makes a difference to young children, and what causes and effects of developmental inequalities at school age?

Zest and Grit
Two words the describe well the traits required for a child to be prepared for their lives beyond childhood. inspired by these terms, Paul has based a lot of his evaluation on character traits and behaviours.  A lot of this work has arisen from the field of positive psychology over the past ten years, the traits often cited as the key to living a fulfilled life are: zest, grit, self-control, social intelligence, gratitude, optimism and curiosity.

It seems simplistic at this stage of our work to view these as enough, but these seven areas certainly do provide a useful starting points for our ideas on evaluating ‘life readiness’. As an aside, if you’re interested in measuring your own strengths and weaknesses, and you have the time and energy, here are some surveys.