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Save the Children Publishes New Toolkit for Communities to Improve Children’s Early Learning


Save the Children, 28th August

  • Save the Children’s Early Learning Communities Toolkit provides a step by step process to working together to improve children’s early learning outcomes.
  • In partnership with sector professionals, the charity is releasing the Early Learning Communities Toolkit under a Creative Commons license to provide full access to communities across the UK to use and share knowledge and creativity.
  • The Toolkit supports communities to combine academic research, expertise from local practitioners and the experiences of local people in order to develop a bespoke plan designed for a specific locality.
  • Save the Children has spokespeople available for interview if you would be interested in hearing more about the project. Please contact media@savethechildren.org.uk / 0207 012 6841 / (24 hrs) 07831 650409 with any enquiries.


Save the Children is publishing its new Early Learning Communities Toolkit aimed at improving early learning for children growing up in poverty in communities across the UK. The charity’s mission for its UK work is to secure a sustainable reduction in the number of children growing up in poverty, and to narrow the early learning gap between children growing up in poverty in their better-off peers.

Developed in partnership with Dartington Service Design Lab and associates, Oxford University, Plymouth University, and local partners and communities, the Early Learning Communities Toolkit outlines a process for Communities to work through in order to improve early learning outcomes locally.

Backed up by a comprehensive evidence review, the key factors that impact children’s early learning are summarised and the interventions designed to address these factors explored.   It also addresses what will make those interventions successful when and where they are delivered.

The Toolkit encourages local areas to consider their own community partnerships; local data, and the views of local children and families, to create their own plan to improve children’s early learning outcomes.   

It is being published under a Creative Commons license meaning any community has unrestricted access to the documents and can apply the approach and learnings to their own location and neighbourhood setting.

Save the Children and a range of local partners have used the Toolkit to develop local plans across four community areas in the UK: Feltham, Margate, Bettws and one of Sheffield’s seven educational areas, known as Locality B Sheffield, Locality B - now known as the first Early Learning Communities. These strategies will be implemented from September 2019.

Having developed local plans using the Early Learning Communities Toolkit, the four Early Learning Communities will now bring together a combination of programme delivery and early years systems change work to improve support for children and their parents, and ultimately improve children’s early learning outcomes. In partnership with local organisations (for example schools, local authorities and early years health providers), along with children and families, the Toolkit enables communities to develop a place-based, sustainable and impact-led model needed to narrow the gap in children’s early learning.

The leading children’s charity is keen to hear from community leads (local authorities, schools, other charities) who would like to know more about how the Toolkit has been used and how it is supporting Early Learning Communities. Download the Toolkit here.

Paul Perkins, Head of Local Systems Change at Save the Children said:“We’re very excited to be using this comprehensive approach to improve the lives of children in each of our Early Learning Communities. By providing the documents under a Creative Commons license we hope to reach many more children and communities across the UK boosting children’s learning outcomes and narrowing the attainment gap, and to learn from others’ use of them. By combining lived experience with professionals’ expertise and the comprehensive evidence we believe this Toolkit can provide an excellent approach to catalysing change and supporting communities to transform their children’s futures.”

Tim Hobbs, Chief Executive of Dartington Service Design Lab said:“This Toolkit provides one of the first accessible guides to early years systems change in the UK. The approach enables communities to access an extensive bank of evidence and the tools to apply this to their own specific contexts. This methodology chimes with our work at Dartington where we are focused on nurturing the collective leadership of local communities so systems can effectively learn and improve the decisions and outcomes experienced by people.”

Ian Read, Headteacher at Watercliffe Meadow Community Primary School said: "As a founding partner of the Early Learning Community project we are already seeing results. Working together in partnership with Save the Children, Sheffield Local Authority, South Yorkshire Futures, Children’s NHS Foundation Trust and local families we are developing a local strategy and moving ahead with opening a dedicated Early Years Hub in the community – becoming a centre of excellence bringing benefits to our school community and the rest of the city.” 


NOTES TO EDITORS: Children in poverty are those who have claimed eligibility for free school meals through a qualifying benefit such as income support or universal credit.

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