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Brief Early Skills & Support Index (BESSI)

The 'Ready Steady Go' Project: Developing the BESSI

This project was commissioned in January 2012 by Frank Field MP and has been funded by the Westminster Foundation and, more recently, the Foundation Years Trust (Director, Anna-Louise Van Der Merwe). The main aim was to develop a simple but reliable questionnaire for teachers to assess how well children are making the transition to school. This questionnaire, the Brief Early Skills & Support Index (or BESSI) has been developed and validated for reception and nursery children. Most of this research has been based in the Wirral and our current work aims to determine whether the BESSI is appropriate for use in more ethnically diverse areas.

An additional aim of this project is to develop a similar parent-rated instrument for younger children - the Index of Toddler Life Chances (I-TLC) - that could be incorporated into the age 2 integrated review.

Past and present members of the 'Ready Steady Go' team include Prof. Claire Hughes, Dr Rory Devine, Dr Irenee Daly, Dr Naomi White, Ms Sarah Foley & Mr Dominic Kelly.

Using the BESSI

We are very happy for teachers, researchers and other professionals working with nursery- and reception-aged children to use the BESSI, but would appreciate hearing about this work. Copies of the BESSI can be downloaded using the links below along with a coding manual, which provides information about using and scoring the questionnaire. If you have any questions about the BESSI please contact Prof. Claire Hughes.

Relevant team publications 

Hughes, C. (2015). The transition to school. The Psychologist, 28, 714-717.

Hughes, C., Daly, I., Foley, S., White, N. and Devine, R. T. (2015). Measuring the foundations of school readiness: Introducing a new questionnaire for teachers – The Brief Early Skills and Support Index (BESSI). British Journal of Educational Psychology, 85, 332-356.

Resources for the BESSI

BESSI questionnaire (Reception version)

BESSI questionnaire (Nursery version)

BESSI coding manual

BESSI class scoring spreadsheet

Please note that the BESSI resources are all:

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