Parenting interventions that improve disadvantaged children’s life-chances

This project is a follow-up study to compare the progress of 215 children from disadvantaged, inner-city areas whose parents received one of four parenting interventions. The children were originally studied in the Helping Children Achieve Trial, (Scott, Sylva, et al., in press), where the children were last seen 9-11 months after intervention. This study will re-visit them a year later. As well as seeing if effects persisted, it will examine whether the intervention was equally effective for all groups, for example those from ethnic minorities, on low incomes or with stressed parents.  

The four parenting interventions are: 

  • the Supporting Parents on Kids Education in Schools literacy programme (SPOKES);
  • the Incredible Years relationship programme (IY);
  • a combination of both (Combi); and
  • signposting information about useful services (Signposting, the control group).

Children from disadvantaged backgrounds have lower levels of literacy and higher rates of difficult behaviour than more advantaged children, contributing to intergenerational cycles of disadvantage. Effective early intervention is key.

While there is good evidence that improving the parent-child relationship leads to better social adjustment and reduces behaviour problems, less is known about whether parent-led reading programmes improve children’s literacy, and if they also improve behaviour. 

Project details



Professor Stephen Scott, Kings College, London

Professor Kathy Sylva, Oxford University

Funding programme

Children and Families

Grant amount and duration


July 2012 - October 2013