The Bigger Picture

As a Team within Nottingham City Council, we not only deliver on identified statutory duties linked to our service area from national legislative requirements that we work within, but we also contribute to the strategic priorities of the local authority.

At a local level, our key contributions are to the Child-Friendly Nottingham Outcome of the Nottingham City Council Strategic Plan 2023-2027.

At a national level, as part of its plan to improve social mobility in the early years, the Department for Education set an ambitious goal to halve, by 2028, the percentage of children leaving reception year without the communication, language and literacy skills they need to thrive.

The measure that underpins this ambition is the proportion of children achieving the expected level or above for both the ‘communication and language’ and ‘literacy’ early learning goals of the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile (EYFSP). To achieve this departmental ambition, 86% of children nationally would need to achieve the expected level in both early learning goals. All local authorities need to improve to reach this level of attainment.

Overall, the Department is investing over £100m in its early years social mobility programme, which works to improve children’s outcomes through the home, early years settings and local services, and is funding over 400 projects in 138 local authorities across the country.

Locally Nottingham City has received support under the following programmes:

This programme engaged local leaders and spread best practice and innovation on early language and literacy for disadvantaged children. This includes up to 30 peer reviews, delivered by the Local Government Association and the Early Intervention Foundation. Nottingham City received a peer review in October 2019, the recommendations from the feedback report continue to be implemented and the Peer Challenge Feedback Report can be read here.

Voluntary and Community Sector Grants through the National Literacy Trust. Locally, this is the ‘Read On Nottingham’, a community-driven campaign from the National Literacy Trust, Nottingham City Council and Small Steps Big Changes, supported by National Lottery Community Fund. The campaign encompasses a range of programmes and activities to equip children and young people in Nottingham with the literacy skills they need to succeed in life. More information can be found at https://literacytrust.org.uk/communities/nottingham/

Nottingham City Council was a delivery partner in the Early Outcomes Fund with Leicester City Council and Derby City Council. The work aimed to help us better understand and improve early language identification and support for speech, language and communication needs so we can better co-ordinate our offer for children and families.

We are clear that the resulting speech, language and communication needs strategies must have shared responsibility for implementation, management and evaluation across all sectors of the 0-5 workforce in order to produce the desired outcomes.

This work involved close partnerships with Better Communication CIC and the use of their Balanced System®. This is an outcomes-based framework, suite of tools and templates used to improve the commissioning and delivery of services for children and young people, which benefit from an integrated approach to delivering outcomes. More information can be found at https://www.bettercommunication.org.uk/the-balanced-system/

More information on how we are implementing this work locally can be found here.

In partnership with Public Health England, the Departments aim was to train 1,000 health visitors in speech, language and communication needs. An early language assessment tool was developed and made available to health visitors and other early years practitioners across local authorities and there are also plans to develop early language pathway guidance, setting out how local services can work together to support children with different levels of need.

A cohort of local health visitors received this training to develop existing skills and equip them with the latest research and evidence relating to speech, language and communication to cascade learning locally both within their teams and to the wider early years workforce via ‘communities of practice’.

The City has also benefitted from the Hungry Little Minds Campaign to encourage parents to engage in activities that support their child’s early learning and help set them up school and beyond. For activity ideas and more information on how you can support the Hungry Little Minds Campaign, go to https://hungrylittleminds.campaign.gov.uk/

This national campaign dovetails with the local Big Little Moments Campaign, led by Small Steps Big Changes, which acknowledges that babies and toddlers are growing and learning every day and the little moments parents can share with their children make a big difference. From morning to bed time, waiting for the bus to playing together, every moment is a chance for parents, as the child’s primary educator, to help build a child’s brain as they learn how to talk, how to feel and how to make friends. Every interaction strengthens these individual elements, and add up to something bigger to give children the skills they need to develop into healthy, bright adults.

More information on Big Little Moments can be found at http://www.smallstepsbigchanges.org.uk/biglittlemoments