Our work on Early Intervention is informed by the scholarly work of the Sociologist Robert K. Merton who coined the term, The Matthew Effect, in 1968. The term comes from a quotation attributed to Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew:
“To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken.”
What’s this got to do with me and my school or academy? Everything. Because Robert K. Merton used this saying to explain the phenomenon of how those who lag behind stay behind in terms of wealth, education and other areas of aspiration. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. This isn’t just to do with wealth but with educational achievement too. Those who fall behind tend to stay behind.
How do we address this? How do we close the gap, diminish the difference? Early Intervention. Two key take away messages:
1. Only with bespoke, intense and quality intervention can those who fall behind make progress and catch up with peers. If you’re a school or academy leader who thinks those falling behind need low cost interventions from the least qualified in your care then you are seriously misunderstanding the challenge facing those who have fallen behind face.
2. The key is early intervention. The longer a learner is left to falter and fall behind, the more difficult it will be to get them re-engaged and the less chance they have of catching up and fulling their potential.