Achievement for All

Amount Given:

£807,615 over four years (grant made in 2016)


Addressing the root causes of low educational attainment and challenging behaviour

Achievement for all

Catherine Hillis,

Grants Manager, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation

Research shows how vital the earliest years are for a child’s development but that the quality of early years provision is often weakest in areas of deprivation.  By starting working with children at the age of two, the Achieving Early programme aims to close the gap in attainment between disadvantaged children and their peers entirely by the start of school.  Achieving Early is a great fit with our priority of addressing the root causes of educational attainment in that it is ambitious both in its aims of addressing the current inequality in provision and in the outcomes it will achieve for young people.  We were particularly impressed by the way in which the programme engages with families and with the evidence of impact to date.

Achievement for All has developed an evidence-based programme – Achieving Early – to support settings to develop their practice, enabling them to offer the highest quality provision, ensuring every child meets their potential regardless of background, challenge or need.  We hope to be able to demonstrate, by comparing their outcomes on entry to Key Stage 1, that the gap that currently exists between children living in poverty and their more affluent peers can be significantly reduced if settings work with Achieving Early.  Once we can successfully demonstrate the closing of this gap we will have sufficient evidence for the cost effectiveness of early intervention and the need for greater investment in the early years workforce and their continuing professional development.  The long-term benefits are that children attending a high-quality setting are 20% more likely than children who go to low-quality settings to progress and achieve 5 A*–C GCSEs, preparing the way for social mobility.

Linda Cramp,

Nursery Manager at Hope Nursery


Achievement for All

At first it was all about the support that the coach gave me, and now it’s about the difference that I know we are making to the children in our setting.  Before we were part of the programme, I felt overwhelmed by the size of my role and everything that I had to do, but Achieving Early has really helped me to develop my leadership and management skills so I am able to prioritise and effectively manage my workload confidently.  The training and support given to me means that I am also confident to train my staff well, which enables us all to do much better for the children in our setting, and this shows in their raised achievement. We receive very positive feedback from other professionals that support our children and our progress was reflected in our Ofsted inspection report. 

We have had a much greater response from parents to our Taking Time for Talk conversations (the evidence based approach to developing strong parental partnerships focused on the child’s outcomes), and the number of parents willing to work in partnership with us is almost 100% – many more than we had expected.  The surprise for us was that it was far easier for us to enable all parents to have these conversations than we thought – moving from 10 parents to 121 seemed like a huge task, but we have achieved it!  This means that all children have a focus for learning which is shared by the setting and the parents.  All the staff in the setting have totally embraced Taking Time for Talk and enthusiastically implement the conversations, and enjoy the successes that come from the partnership.  When parents were asked by the Ofsted inspector about the way we worked with them their feedback was positive.

Jill Gowing,

Preschool Manager at Playdays Pre-school

It has given me much more confidence and helped me to develop my role as a manager, made things a lot clearer and I know what I need to do. I can focus on the most important areas and prioritise what I have to do.  More recently it is helping me to delegate effectively.  All of this means that my leadership is having a positive impact on every area of the setting.  

The programme has provided the most useful training we have had because it is tailored to our needs.

We did not expect some of the work we have done to have had such a huge impact. For example, when we changed the format of our learning journals, and the way we worked with parents to gather their contributions, the response of the parents was far greater, and more positive than we had anticipated.  Also, there was significant impact for staff around being able to accurately make judgements about children’s achievements; this was greater than we expected.  The journals have become a really important and effective tool for communication and developing partnerships with parents.

You can view a video of this programme in action here.