The British Academy has run a series of policy roundtables on matters to do with international development in recent years. These have included topics such as improving learning in challenging contexts and lessons from schools that work in poor communities in South Africa. A particular focus for the Academy has been convening a diverse range of disciplinary expertise both within the humanities and social sciences as well as beyond from medical and scientific disciplines to energise future co-designed policy and research agendas in priority areas.
Such a priority area is early childhood development where the need for cross-disciplinary and interdisciplinary research and engagement with policymakers and practitioners is of critical importance. The Academy has been working closely with the Department for International Development on this issue as global recognition of the importance of early childhood development has led to it being focused on in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and the UN-sponsored International Commission for Financing Global Education Opportunity’s recommendations to the UN General Assembly in September 2016. In addition, there are increasing numbers of low and middle income countries formulating early childhood development policies, usually housed in health or education government departments in the developing world, engaging with this growing interest and catalysing evidence on what works is essential in informing the development and take-up of policies and interventions to improve early childhood development.
As part of this work, the Academy has also helped to convene background roundtables for the development of the International Commission for Financing Global Education Opportunity’s final report, and has supported the Institute of Fiscal Studies and the Inter-American Development Bank in taking forward the proposals put forward in its report on ‘The early years: child well-being and the role of public policy’. Both of which are available to download on the right hand side.