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The Communication Trust

New interactive site helps schools support all pupils communicate to the best of their ability.

The Communication Trust has launched the Communication Commitment, a new interactive website for schools. It’s a simple way to ensure all pupils communicate to the best of their ability by developing a whole-school approach to communication.  The Commitment helps schools to support all of their pupils, including those with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN), to communicate better – part of the Ofsted Framework and helps them prepare for the SEND Reforms, due to be implemented in September 2014.

Once schools register, they gain access to free information, toolkits, resources and a personalised Action Plan to develop the best approach for their school and pupils. Then they can find out about our expert member organisations who offer a range of support to help schools go further.

Go to the site and start on your Commitment Journey today!

Home Start UK

Home-Start UK’s Volunteer Impact Symposium

Portcullis House, London

10am – 1pm

Tue 12 November 2013

Tickets are FREE – on a first come, first served basis.

Click here to book your place:

The potential for volunteers to transform the life chances of the most disadvantaged children and families in our society is now clearly recognised.  More importantly, there is now robust evidence that volunteers provide a qualitatively different kind of help, which in partnership with other programmes and services, can deliver improved outcomes for families, especially those with multiple and complex needs.

The Volunteer Impact Symposium will share some of the latest evidence from the UK and abroad that contributes to our understanding of the impact of volunteer-led family support services.

This half day event will bring together researchers, policy makers, practitioners and commissioners from across the sector to discuss and debate the impact volunteers make in family support services and how this can be developed.

The symposium will share and debate:

  • How volunteers can respond to the needs of particular client groups including those with complex and multiple needs
  • Effective approaches to evaluating the impact of the volunteer’s role
  • What goes into an effective volunteering model – and how to ensure quality and efficacy within a volunteer based approach
  • Integration – why volunteer based support should be an integral part of all local service offers for families
  • Volunteer stories – first hand experiences and insights from volunteers

Confirmed Speakers:

Dr Janet Boddy: Reader in Child, Youth & Family Studies and Co-Director, Centre for Innovation and Research in Childhood and Youth (CIRCY)

Chair: Naomi Eisenstadt CB, Senior Research Fellow, University of Oxford

Prof Joyce Kenkre: Professor of Primary Care, University of South Wales, Director of the Wales School of Primary Care Research

Dr Rob Macmillan: Research Fellow, TSRC Third Sector Research Centre University of Birmingham

Who should attend?

  • Leaders in early years and family services settings
  • Directors of children’s services
  • Volunteer organisations and agencies
  • Think tanks and policy makers
  • Commissioners and funders of family support services
  • Parenting practitioners
  • Health visitors and early years professionals
  • Researchers and academics with an interest in early years and parenting

Book and secure your place at this important event. Tickets are FREE – on a first come, first served basis.  The Symposium will open at 9.30am for registration and refreshments.  The programme will start at 10am and conclude with a buffet lunch at 1pm.

If you have any questions please contact [email protected]


NDNA’s autumn nursery survey is now open and they need nurseries to tell them about the key issues they are facing.

The survey will collect data on occupancy, funding and business confidence and will help us build up an accurate picture of how the early years sector is performing. This information will be used to highlight the challenges faced by nurseries to Government and the media. Taking part in the survey means your voice will be heard with policy makers.

By taking part in the survey you will be automatically entered in a free prize draw to win £100 worth of vouchers to spend on toys and resources for your nursery, kindly donated by Pound Gates. Five runners-up will each win an NDNA Early Years Development Zone course of their choice, worth up to £32.

Take part in the survey


Achieving Two Year Olds

Achieving Two Year Olds (A2YO) is the national DfE support programme for providers and local authorities, delivered by Hempsall’s and Mott MacDonald.  A2YO’s aim is to support the implementation of free early learning for the least advantaged two year olds.  They have recently launched a FREE nation-wide roadshow for group providers, children’s centres, schools and childminders.  Over 60 roadshows will occur over the next few months across daytimes, evenings and weekends, and you are invited to come along to the next dates in the diary:

Roadshows are held from 9.30am to 1.00pm

Newcastle – Gateshead Hilton Hotel – 25 November 2013

Birmingham – Thistle Hotel – 26 November 2013

Nottingham – Mercure Hotel – 3 December 2013

Wimborne – Hamworthy Club – 5 December 2013

Leeds – Novotel Hotel – 6 December 2013

London – QEII Conference Centre, Westminster – 11 December 2013 – fully booked

Due to high demand there is an additional London roadshow 1.30pm – 5.00pm on 11 December 2013

James Hempsall, National Support Director says:

“Roadshows are proving to be extremely popular.  Providers, childminders and schools are eager to find out more about developments across the country, what to be considering, how to work with local authorities, and things that could or should be done.  There is significant interest in the business and funding opportunities provided by the extension to early leaning for two year olds.  Places at roadshows have been filling up extremely quickly, we have already extended the programme to include an additional afternoon roadshow in London and will extend other roadshows where required. We are now planning a series of six roadshows for early in the spring.”

Don’t miss out on your FREE place.  To book contact [email protected] or download a booking form by visiting the A2YO page at

Early Learning Development Programme

How ELDP is supporting recommendations made for early years settings and Children’s Centres.

Two recent government reports confirm the continued need to support early communication development, especially among children in disadvantaged areas. Recommendations are made in these reports about measures to get closer to this goal. I CAN, the children’s communication charity, looks at how these recommendations link to interim findings from the Early Language Development Programme:

In Getting it right first time (Ofsted, 2013), Michael Wilshaw highlights that the gap between children’s communication skills in disadvantaged areas and those in areas of greater advantage is still too high. ‘In 2012, just over a third of children were not working securely in communication, language and literacy, as shown by the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile scores and, in deprived areas, this rose to more than four in 10 children.’

Wilshaw recommends the need for:

  • a well qualified workforce with staff access to continuing professional development;
  • staff and parents working together to help children achieve;
  • external challenge; and
  • visits to other settings.

The Early Language Development Programme (ELDP) is currently implementing some of these recommendations in the areas where training has been cascaded to local practitioners.

ELDP provides three training courses to local practitioners around supporting babies’ and toddlers’ communication development and working with parents and carers to do the same.  Free training is available to childminders, early years practitioners and family facing practitioners and there has been a focus on cascading this training in areas of disadvantage.

An interim evaluation by the Office for Public Management (OPM) identified changes made by practitioners, through ELDP, including:

  • Adaptations to setting environments and activities.
  • Improved interactions with parents.
  • The use of innovative ideas to support early language development.

A second report, from the All Party Parliamentary Sure Start Group (Best practice for a Sure Start – July 2013), recommends a focus on the under twos (the age group targeted in ELDP). It also states that ‘centre staff should support and facilitate parents to play with their babies and children in ways that encourage their development – emphasising the benefits of talking to children and affectionate praise.’  The report includes further recommendations focusing on early language development such as:

  • Providing or promoting singing and story sessions which encourage parents to sing with their babies and children and promote the benefits of reading even to very young children.
  • Ante and post-natal groups in Centres should encourage parents to speak to their baby, particularly in affectionate tones, despite the fact that they are not yet able to reply. They should help parents overcome any sense of shyness or embarrassment about doing so, particularly in public.

With nearly 9,000 local practitioners now having been trained, OPM has identified that ELDP training will have already impacted on 97,104 parents through groups and activities such as those recommended in the Sure Start report.

The programme is also extending its reach to encourage the embedding of good practice and measurement of local outcomes through a Good Practice Validation programme.

Most importantly, the combination of practitioners’ increased knowledge and awareness and the improvements in parent and carer knowledge / awareness and confidence were felt to be impacting on children’s development of speech, language and communication.  OPM reported an ‘enriched’ environment for early language development both within settings and in the home.

Information from OPM’s case study sites back up these findings, with emerging evidence of impact on individual children:

“The support was really good, it has really helped him, his language has got much better…I wouldn’t have known that reading to your child helps them to talk and that it is hearing words constantly which helps…Now I say words related to what he is saying to extend his language” (Parent, Case Study, Northamptonshire)

“We’re seeing a dramatic change… With one child they’ve only been with us since October…that child wouldn’t have made eye contact, they were communicating using one word and now they are asking simple questions and linking a lot of words to objects too.” (Practitioner, Case Study, Bolton)

“It’s impacting on [the children’s] development, we monitor this every term and we can see improvements for children who need support; they are making great progress.”  (Practitioner, Case Study, Cornwall)

Click here for more information about ELDP and the interim findings



TrimTots is a fun, interactive multi-component healthy lifestyle programme for preschool children and their families that has been developed by a multidisciplinary team from the UCL Institute of Child Health. TrimTots has been successfully delivered in Hertfordshire Children’s Centres and was well-liked by participants and early years’ staff. Importantly, taking part in TrimTots reduced the risk of obesity and led to improvements in health and behaviours associated with healthier lifestyles. These benefits were sustained at long-term follow up – two years after completing the programme. TrimTots is now poised to roll out across children’s centres in the UK and may be available in your area soon. For more information please contact the TrimTots team at [email protected]

You can read the full report here


The Children’s Food Trust

A trio of new online learning courses for early years professionals has launched this week – aiming to help nurseries, childminders and children’s centres deliver healthy food.

The courses, launched on the Children’s Food Trust’s Learning Network, are designed to support the EYFS and the charity’s national guidelines on providing healthy food and drink in childcare, and are also endorsed by the Council for Awards in Care, Health and Education (CACHE).

The series looks at providing a healthy diet for young children, meeting the food and drink guidelines for early years settings, and encouraging young children to eat well – covering issues such as fussy eating, behaviour and best practice at meal times. This autumn’s programme will also include new webcasts from Masterchef semi-finalist and former nursery chef, Sophie Atkins-Ward.

Dr Patricia Mucavele from the Trust said: We’re really excited about these courses because they make it so easy for early years teams to access good training on food and nutrition. Online learning is particularly important for childminders – this format means they can access training at a time and place that suits them.”

Rob Wye, CACHE CEO, said: “We’re pleased to endorse the Learning Network’s early years training courses.  Completing these courses will provide early years and health practitioners with the nutrition knowledge they require to meet national best practice – the Voluntary Food and Drink Guidelines for Early Years Settings in England.”

The Trust’s Learning Network aims to be a hub for information and learning about healthy children’s food, and already offers courses on topics such as increasing free school meal take-up and making low-cost improvements to dining spaces for children as well as webcasts on topical children’s food issues and a forum to share ideas around the country.

Early years professionals wanting to try sample modules from one of the new courses can do so by registering their email address at UK residents accessing the sample modules before 30 November 2013 will be entered into a draw to win an iPad. Twelve month memberships cost £108 for an individual, but there are discounts for employers buying bulk memberships – taking the cost down to as little as £32 per person.

Creation of the Learning Network has been part-funded by Ufi Charitable Trust, which works to improve vocational skills through innovative uses of technology.

Road Safety Week

Road Safety Week, the UK’s biggest road safety event, co-ordinated by Brake, the road safety charity, is taking place 18-24 November this year.

Last year thousands of communities, companies, educators and road safety professionals got involved by running activities including road safety displays, working with schools and colleges, running employee workshops holding poster design competitions, launching local campaigns for safer roads, and running fundraising events. These activities have helped to promote road safety in communities across the UK.

This year’s theme is ‘tune in to road safety’, highlighting the need for all road users to avoid distractions, though people are encouraged to run activities on any road safety theme.

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