Since 2009, London Bubble Theatre Company has been running Speech Bubbles, a primary school drama intervention delivered by trained drama practitioners in disadvantaged areas in London and Greater Manchester. The programme aims to support children in developing essential life skills: these include communication skills, confidence and wellbeing. Ultimately, the Speech Bubbles programme aims to transform children’s life chances.
London Bubble Theatre approached Pro Bono Economics for help in providing a value for money assessment of the Speech Bubbles programme. Volunteers from the economic advisory team at EY Nick Catton and Colin Edwards authored the report, with support from Steve Hook, Luke Miller and Andrew Jones, and quality review from Matt Corkery. The report uses Cost-Benefit Appraisal (CBA) methods widely adopted by government and other funding bodies. The economic benefits of the programme are quantified as increased lifetime earnings of the children who participate in the programme.
Pro Bono Economics’ Chief Economist Neil Pratt stated:
“Overall the analysis suggests that Speech Bubbles delivers good value for money, with a benefit to cost ratio that is relatively high compared to values reported in studies of other primary age interventions in education.”
Further work to assess the effectiveness of the Speech Bubbles programme is due to take place in September 2018, when the Education Endowment Foundation will conduct a Randomised Control Trial. This is expected to involve 500 pupils across 25 schools: it is one of five trials examining whether cultural learning approaches can help boost primary pupils’ achievements. All five projects will be evaluated by an independent team led by the University of London’s Institute of Education, as well as the Behavioural Insights Team.
Jonathan Petherbridge, Creative Director at London Bubble Theatre Company, stated:
“Speech Bubbles is a drama programme developed by London Bubble – a company who run projects which bring the benefits of theatre-making to people of all ages. The Speech Bubbles project supports young children with communication needs. This report by PBE and EY will significantly improve our evidence base, adding detailed knowledge about the programmes economic benefits to our evidence of the joy that children experience when they take part”.