In 2019, the Department for Education launched Hungry Little Minds – a three-year campaign to encourage parents to engage in activities that support their child’s early learning and help set them up for school and beyond.

Read the full press release

Campaign materials

Hungry Little Minds campaign partners can use these logos and templates to help promote the campaign to parents and carers.

The campaign toolkit contains an introduction and background to the campaign, along with key messages, suggested social media posts and guidelines for using the materials.

If you have any trouble accessing any of the assets, email

Wellbeing and the Home Learning Environment

A sense of wellbeing contributes to a good home learning environment. Parents who are able to create a sense of optimism in their family, in spite of what can be major difficulties or setbacks in finances, health or other circumstances, are more likely to create an environment in the home where children learn and flourish.

See the Institute ofWellbeing’s Factsheet: What has Wellbeing got to do with creating a positive home learning environment?

Every Child a Talker

Every Child a Talker (ECAT) aimed to:

  • raise children’s achievement in early language
  • improve practitioners’ skills and knowledge
  • increase parental understanding and involvement in children’s language development

ECAT was designed to help create a developmentally appropriate, supportive and stimulating environment in which children can enjoy experimenting with and learning language. It can be implemented whether children are in Early Years settings, with a child minder or at home with their parents. Through everyday fun and interesting activities which reflect children’s interests, ECAT will encourage early language development right from the outset, extending children’s vocabulary and helping them build sentences so that before they start school, children are confident and skilled communicators.

These materials are designed to support in developing the role as a lead practitioner and in developing high quality language provision and are closely linked to the Early Years Foundation Stage.

Monitoring tool

Notes on monitoring early communication and language. With observation and best-fit judgements, checkpoints and guidance on typical development of speech sounds.

Guidance for consultants 1
Guidance for consultants 2
Guidance for Early Language Lead Practitoners 1
Guidance for Early Language Lead Practitioners 2
Guidance for Early Language Lead Practitioners 3

Parents as Partners in Early Learning

Barnsley Case Study

Barnsley’s Parents as Partners in Early Learning (PPEL) funding was used to recruit parent champions via the National Children’s Homes (NCH) children’s centre in Bolton-on-Dearne – one of the district’s most economically-deprived areas. The parent champions worked alongside early years practitioners showcasing a variety of PPEL-funded early years resources and activities to several groups of parents. They also devised and carried out questionnaire-based research into the use of nursery rhymes by parents attending Sure Start baby clinics. One of the aims of their work was to shed light on the barriers that some parents experience in getting involved with their children’s early learning and using local services. The appointment of parent champions personalised the process and enhanced the engagement of all concerned: parents, children and practitioners.

Blackburn with Darwen Case Study

Blackburn with Darwen’s Parents as Partners in Early Learning (PPEL) funding was used to support targeted projects. One of the most successful was the Me and My Dad scheme.
In several parts of Blackburn with Darwen, considerable challenges face those wishing to build long-lasting parental engagement within early years settings and schools. Seeking creative ways of bridging the gap between practitioners and parents, especially fathers, is one of the authority’s key goals.

This case study outlines the nature, philosophy and positive impact of the Me and My Dad scheme and describes the generic lessons learned about parental involvement, project design and execution.

Derbyshire Case Study

Derbyshire’s Parents as Partners in Early Learning (PPEL) funding was targeted at widely dispersed settings located in some of the county’s most deprived areas. It was used to give parents, children and practitioners opportunities to experience, explore and evaluate heuristic play.
Heuristic play is focused on groups of children, observed by their parents and practitioners, playing freely with a large number of different kinds of objects without adult intervention.

Kirklees Case Study

Kirklees targeted the Parents as Partners in Early Learning (PPEL) initiative at developing practitioners’ skills in engaging with parents – particularly those from traditionally less involved groups, in this case Kirklees’ South Asian communities. A parallel goal was to create stronger links between children’s learning in early years settings and in the home environment. Both objectives were achieved through special events, including workshop-picnics promoting the principles of the Letters and Sounds approach. These events also provided a recruiting ground for parents willing to take a fuller part in developing and refining a set of Letters and Sounds training resources.

Liverpool Case Study

Liverpool’s Parents as Partners in Early Learning (PPEL) project complemented existing priorities and initiatives focused on engaging parents with their children’s early learning and the city’s drive to promote healthy, active lifestyles.
The PPEL funding was used to create an Active Play project aimed specifically at fathers. Six-week courses were run in over 20 early years settings. A free rucksack, crammed with equipment designed to sustain the positive indoor and outdoor activities and messages learned on the course, was promised to each father as an incentive to encourage regular participation in the PPEL Active Play sessions.

Liverpool’s Active Play programme relied on four part-time key workers, whose flexible approach to programme delivery meant that training programmes could be run at times convenient for those fathers who could only attend at weekends or in the evenings. Overcoming these time barriers enabled good levels of uptake for the courses.

Many of the children’s centres had already benefited from broader active play training aimed at children and early years practitioners, so the PPEL funding fell on fertile ground. The project extended work where there were fathers’ groups already in existence, and also helped develop new groups in other settings. All shared the same purpose: encouraging fathers to engage with their young children.

Newcastle Case Study

Newcastle’s Parents as Partners in Early Learning (PPEL) funding was used to develop and deliver a five-day Way We Learn course aimed at parents from some of the city’s most disadvantaged communities. Newcastle’s University of the First Age (UFA) team was ideally placed to take on the PPEL initiative, as a result of its pioneering work with parents, schools and the local authority. The success of the course was proven by a wide range of assessment and evaluation approaches, which revealed evidence of significant gains for parents, children and practitioners.

Plymouth Case Study

Plymouth’s Parents as Partners in Early Learning (PPEL) Kids and Dads project was a joint venture involving Keystone children’s centres, Plymouth’s YMCA children’s centres and the local authority. The project worked in partnership with five voluntary and community organisations, serving some of the most deprived communities in the city. Activities focused on ways in which to involve fathers more with their children’s early learning. The project made good use of benchmark research and enjoyed a prominent local profile, thanks to an effective marketing strategy. Evaluation evidence has revealed significant gains for parents, children and practitioners.

Sandwell Case Study

Sandwell’s Parents as Partners in Early Learning (PPEL) funding was used to set up an international new arrivals’ scheme. Key aspects of the scheme included:

  • forging inter-agency links
  • bespoke staff training
  • creating activities and sessions targeted at new arrivals
  • encouraging newly-arrived parents to move to full engagement with early years services.

Evaluation evidence shows that the programme has made a significant impact on practitioners’ ability to support newly-arrived parents. Significant improvements have also been made in the engagement of newly-arrived parents with Early Years services.

Tower Hamlets Case Study

Tower Hamlets’ Parents as Partners in Early Learning (PPEL) funding was used to create a team of early learning mentors (ELMs). The team worked with a carefully selected group of potentially under-achieving boys and their parents from a wide range of settings, including children’s centres, nurseries and schools. The work focused on supporting the boys’ communication and emotional and social development. The project exemplified excellent monitoring and evaluation and demonstrated the kind of strategic thinking necessary to embed and extend good practice.