Data from the independent evaluation of Childhood Development Initiative's Doodle Den after-school programme, which was undertaken by the Centre for Effective Education at Queen’s University Belfast.

Doodle Den is an after-school programme that was designed to promote young children’s literacy in Tallaght West (Dublin). Tallaght West has been designated as an area of particular social and economic disadvantage, with high levels of unemployment.

Doodle Den was a newly developed programme, which targeted 5 and 6 year-old children (Senior Infants class), and involved them in attending 3 after-school sessions each week, each lasting 1½ hours. It aimed to improve children’s literacy through targeting the following literacy domains through a balanced literacy framework: writing, text comprehension, phonics, sight vocabulary, independent reading and fluency. It operated throughout the normal school year, over a 36-week period.

The stated aims of the Doodle Den programme were to achieve moderate improvements in the children’s literacy with specific outcomes sought as:

  • improvements in children’s regular school attendance;
  • improvements in the children’s broader engagement in learning outside the school through improved literacy,
  • increasing confidence and improved home environment relating to literacy;
  • enhancing relationships between the child, their family and peers, for example, through increasing parent/carer
  • involvement in supporting their child’s literacy development and increasing family use of library services.

The evaluation took the form of a randomised control trial and a qualitative process evaluation focusing on implementation. Quantitative data from the RCT is available for further research via the Irish Social Science Data Archive (see below link).