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Margate Early Learning Community

The Margate Early Learning Community (MELC) was established in 2018 by Save the Children UK, Kent County Council, the Margate Task Force and Cliftonville Primary School.

Our aims & approaches

MELC aims to improve early learning outcomes for children aged 0-5 growing up in poverty.

This is because evidence shows that early childhood is a critical time for the development of later life outcomes: positive experiences early in life are closely associated with better performance at school, better social and emotional development, improved work outcomes, higher income and better lifelong health, including longer life expectancy.

MELC is a place-based, systems change initiative, meaning the project seeks to stimulate impactful and sustainable improvements across the local early years community over a period of several years. It does this by bringing together a wide range of stakeholders, including families, services and organisations, to share knowledge, collaborate and innovate to improve outcomes for children. MELC is currently in the final phase of full-scale project delivery, with our current funding due to end in December 2026. 

Our areas of focus

MELC’s work is primarily focused across two broad workstreams, which have been identified over the first phase of the project as clearly linked to poor early learning outcomes for local children growing up in poverty:

1.      Confident parenting –parents and carers are aware of and engaging with existing support, including support focused on children’s early learning and any additional needs

2.      Family mental health and wellbeing – both children and their parents/carers have access to support relating to their mental health and wellbeing

While we know there are a range of other barriers to learning affecting young children in the community, by narrowing MELC’s focus we hope to better support the local early years community to collaborate on and learn more deeply about how best to address these two priority areas. 

Our partners

We currently work with over 40 local partners including: local authority service teams, primary schools, nurseries, children’s centres, health services, local businesses and other local charities. Families are also crucial partners in our work and are actively engaged in the design and delivery of projects supported by MELC. With their support, we are able to ensure our work, and that of the partners we work with, best meets the needs of local children and families.

What we've done so far

Since 2020, MELC has supported the piloting of several innovation projects co-designed with practitioners and families from across the community. These projects have included new services and adaptations to existing provision for families. Together, we aim to test and learn from new approaches developed to address gaps in services, as well as trialling a new approach to service design and delivery that is community-led and supports long-term shifts in the local early years system. Projects supported by MELC to date have included:

  • Five cohorts of parenting support programme ‘Families Supporting Families’, delivered by The Education People
  • Fast-referral counselling for parents/carers, delivered by Fegans
  • Establishing an ‘Early Years Network’ for local professionals
  • Partnership with the Turner Contemporary gallery to deliver a range of projects, including Playground
  • Improving access to support for children with a suspected or diagnosed SEND
  • Improved wellbeing resources in schools
  • Community events connecting Roma families with local health services
  • Free access for local families to parenting app EasyPeasy
  • Distributing hundreds of grants including household essentials, toys and books through Save the Children's Early Years Grant programme



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