In his recent statement on social mobility Damian Hinds, Secretary of State for Education, listed his seven truths, which included the importance of 0-3 years and focus on early language development - echoing the message of the Bercow Report, now ten years old.

Raising the importance of Early Years is to be applauded, this is an area that has received mixed support for decades. We have witnessed the demise of Sure Start in England, look to Northern Ireland for further recent evidence of impact; training programmes that were heralded then stopped – NPQICL is one such example; and an attempt to remodel the Early Years workforce led by CWDC and the DfE. In more recent years, Early Years policy and practice has been in turmoil with a lack of clear understanding of what works.

If social mobility is to be realised, with the creation of opportunities that lead to choices for all families regardless of their background challenges and needs, we need to have a structured approach to Early Years, including funding, training and quality assurance.

Since 2014, Achievement for All as an independent charity has been delivering impactful programmes in Early Years settings and schools. Working in partnership with settings in 11 local authorities, we have an evidence base that has been validated by PwC and supported by The Open University. Funded by Esmee Fairbairn, the success of Achieving Early to date has been well-documented. The figures demonstrate a remarkable potential for improvement in targeted children.

These are truly life-changing transformations, coming at the earliest and most influential stage of the education process:

  • Speech, Language and Communication assessments showed a baseline of 23% at age-related expectations. This rose to 69% by the end of the programme. Achieving Early Pilot Report, 2016
  • Personal social and emotional assessments at age-expected levels rose from 23% to 73%. AEP Report, 2016
  • 100% of parents indicated that the Structured Conversations ('Taking Time for Talk') had been helpful in supporting their child's learning. AEP Report, 2016
  • 100% of practitioners reported higher levels of confidence in working with parents. AEP Report, 2016
  • As a result of the pilot programme, the number of settings involved judged “outstanding” by Oftsed increased from 2 to 8, and the number of settings judged “inadequate” fell from 5 to 0. AEP Report, 2016

Demonstrating and embedding what works is needed if the country is to commit to activity that really makes a difference. I would welcome the opportunity to discuss with Ministers, the DfE and Social Mobility Commission how our evidence-based knowledge and experience might inform Early Years policy and practice on how to improve outcomes for all children. It is certainly time to talk families and Early Years.

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Join early years experts including June O’Sullivan MBE, Chief Executive of London Early Years Foundation (LEYF) at Achievement for All’s annual Every Child Included in Education conference on 17th October 2018 at Newbury Racecourse.

Keynote speakers will include Anne Longfield OBE, Children’s Commissioner for England, Emma Lewell-Buck MP, Shadow Minister for Education (children and families) and Thelma Walker MP, member of the Education Select Committee, amongst many others.

There will be 12 expert panel-led sessions discussing and debating a range of topics such as managing transitions in early years, understanding children looked after, engaging children in reading and behavioural policies and vulnerable children.

A full list of speakers and breakout sessions can be found here.

Tickets cost £90 and can be booked here. Achievement for All schools and settings are eligible for a 50% discount.

Parents and carers join free and group discounts are available. Email tickets@afaeducation.org for more information.