Plain English Summary
Background and study aims:
Violence is a leading worldwide public health problem. Interventions in early childhood are an important way to prevent violence. Training young children’s caregivers in behavioural strategies to reduce children’s behavioural problems and promote child social skills can prevent the early development of antisocial behaviour and reduce violence against children by caregivers. The aim of this study is to test whether training preschool teachers in classroom behaviour management strategies and in how to promote young children’s social and emotional skills reduces teachers’ use of corporal punishment and verbal abuse and children’s aggression. We will also examine the effect of the intervention on child and teacher mental health, the quality of the preschool classroom environment and on children’s self-regulation skills and school attendance.
Who can participate?
The study is conducted in preschools in Kingston and St Andrew, Jamaica. Preschools cater to children aged 3-6 years. All teachers and children in the selected schools can participate in the study.
What does the study involve?
Schools are randomly allocated into one of two groups. Teachers from schools in group 1 (intervention group) are invited to participate in training workshops which cover skills in classroom management, effective instruction and teaching social skills to children. Teachers also receive coaching in the skills taught once a month in their classrooms for approximately one hour and receive weekly text messages. The intervention will be conducted over one school year.
Teachers from schools in group 2 (comparison group) are given the same training two years after teachers in group 1.
What are the possible benefits and risks of participating?
Teachers will be trained in evidence-based behaviour management strategies and we anticipate that this will lead to benefits to teacher child management practices, child behaviour, the overall quality of the classroom environment, teachers’ mental health and children’s mental health and inhibitory control and child attendance. There are minimal risks. There is a possibility that teachers may misunderstand how to use the strategies and/or implement them incorrectly; however, this will be addressed by the support and training in monthly in-class coaching sessions.
Where is the study run from?
Tropical Medicine Research Institute, University of the West Indies, Kingston (Jamaica)
When is the study starting and how long is it expected to run for?
March 2015 to June 2018
Who is funding the study?
1. Medical Research Council (UK)
2. Wellcome Trust (UK)
3. Department for International Development (UK)
Who is the main contact?
Dr Helen Baker-Hennington
The Irie Classrooms Toolbox: a cluster randomised trial of a universal violence prevention programme in Jamaican preschools.
A school-based universal violence prevention programme involving training preschool Jamaican teachers in classroom behaviour management and in how to promote children’s social and emotional competence will lead to:
1. Reductions in teachers’ use of violence against children and
2. Reductions in the level of children’s classroom aggression
We also hypothesise that the intervention will lead to increases in the level of children’s pro-social behaviour, improvements in the quality of the classroom climate, improvements in teacher and child mental health and improvements in children’s inhibitory control and school attendance.
1. School of Psychology Ethics and Research Committee, Bangor University, 29/10/2014, ref: 2014-14167
2. University of the West Indies/University Hospital of the West Indies Ethics Committee, 19/01/2015, ref: ECP 50, 14/15
Two-arm, single-blind, cluster randomised controlled trial with parallel assignment
Primary study design
Secondary study design
Cluster randomised trial
Patient information sheet
Not available in web format, please use contact details to request a participant information sheet
Violence, mental health, quality of preschool environment
The intervention involves training preschool teachers using ‘The Irie Classroom Toolbox’. The Toolbox consists of three modules:
1. Creating an emotional supportive classroom environment,
2. Using classroom rules and routines to prevent behaviour problems and to maximise children’s engagement in learning activities
3. Teaching social and emotional skills to children.
The training will be delivered through training workshops, monthly in-class coaching (approx. 1 hour /month in each class) over 2 school terms and weekly text messaging over a school year. Each class will be provided with a small amount of play materials (e.g. building blocks) to facilitate their use of the strategies. Teachers in control schools will receive the same educational materials at the same time as intervention schools. They will attend the routine teacher training days provided for preschool teachers but will not be trained in ‘The Irie Classrooms Toolbox’ or receive the in-class coaching and text messages.
The effect of the intervention will be evaluated at the end of the intervention period and at one-year follow-up. After the one-year follow up data has been collected, teachers in control schools will also be trained in ‘The Irie Classrooms Toolbox’ using the same training protocols as for the intervention teachers.
Primary outcome measure
We have two primary outcome measures:
1. Violence against children by teachers: measured by direct observation over 2 school days in each class. Event recording will be used to record use of corporal punishment and verbal abuse (e.g. threats, name-calling) by teachers.
2. Aggression at the classroom level: measured by observer ratings of the level of children’s interpersonal aggression and destructive behaviours in 20-minute intervals over 1 school day.
Both primary outcomes will be measured at baseline, post-test and one year follow-up.
Secondary outcome measures
We have secondary outcome measures at the level of the classroom, the teacher and the child. Classroom and teacher level outcomes will be measured at baseline, post-test and one year follow-up, child level outcomes will be measured at baseline and post-test only.
1. Classroom level outcomes
1.1. Observer ratings of children’s pro-social behaviour at the classroom level and observer ratings of the quality of the classroom environment using the Classroom Assessment Scoring System – Pre-K.
2. Teacher level outcomes:
2.1. Depressive symptoms (using the Centre for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale)
2.2. Teaching self-efficacy (using 3 subscales from Bandura’s Teaching Self-Efficacy Scale
2.3. Disciplinary efficacy
2.4. Enlisting parent involvement and creating a positive school climate)
2.5. Teacher burn-out (using the Teacher Burnout scale) by teacher report using interviewer administered questionnaires
3. Child level outcomes:
3.1. Child mental health using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire by teacher report
3.2. Children’s inhibitory control by direct testing and child attendance from school records
Overall trial start date
Overall trial end date
Reason abandoned (if study stopped)
Participant inclusion criteria
1. Schools: Preschools situated in specified urban areas in Kingston & St. Andrew, Jamaica (with 2-4 classrooms and an average of at least 10 children per class)
2. Teachers: All teachers in the selected preschools
3. Children: A random sample of children from the 4 year old class in the selected preschools
Target number of participants
76 preschools will be recruited with an average of 3 classrooms/schools giving a sample size of 228 teachers/classrooms. For the child level outcomes, children from the 4 year old class only will be recruited. In classes with 12 or fewer children, all children will be recruited. Where there are more than 12 children, a random sample of children will be selected.
Participant exclusion criteria
1. Preschools with less than two and more than four classrooms/teachers
2. Children with identified developmental disability or delay
3. Children with attendance less than 50%
Recruitment start date
Recruitment end date
Countries of recruitment
Trial participating centre
Tropical Medicine Research Institute
University of the West Indies Mona Campus
Medical Research Council
Funding Body Type
Funding Body Subtype
Funding Body Type
private sector organisation
Funding Body Subtype
Department for International Development, UK Government
Department for International Development, DFID
Funding Body Type
Funding Body Subtype
Results and Publications
Publication and dissemination plan
Intention to publish date
Participant level data
Not provided at time of registration
Basic results (scientific)
2016 protocol in: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27165651