Sectors: Education

Improving educational engagement and outcomes

Dr Easterbrook has been consulting, advising, and collaborating with widening participation organisations that support and encourage students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds to progress within education. He has evaluated the Sussex Study Experience widening participation programme run by the University of Sussex; delivered presentations to charities and policy makers in Westminster, and designed and delivered a consultancy workshop to Realising Opportunities, a large widening participation organisation working with 14 research-intensive universities. He is currently working closely with Realising Opportunities to design and evaluate a bespoke intervention to improve retention rates on their programme supporting groups underrepresented in higher education to apply to research intensive universities. He has also designed and managed a large-scale intervention aimed at improving the GCSE performance of pupils on free-school meals across 30 schools.

Dr Easterbrook has been working closely with Finding Rhythms, a charity that develops organisational and employability skills among prisoners through music workshops. Informed by psychological theory, Dr Easterbrook and Ms Kyprianides worked with Finding Rhythms to evaluate the psychological impact of the workshops using interviews and surveys. The evaluation showed that, as the prisoners worked together and with a music professional to produce music, they adopted a new shared identity which brought them together and dissolved their differences and rivalries, and empowered them with the confidence and ambition to continue to create music both within and outside of prison. Furthermore, the workshops had demonstrable benefits for the prisoners’ social connectedness and mental health. The evaluation report will be used by Finding Rhythms to promote their services and to continue to attract funding.