Early Years Stronger Practice Hubs share successes and learnings after first year

Over 200 delegates attended the Early Years Stronger Practice Hubs National Shared Learning and Dissemination event, which celebrated the achievements of the 18 Hubs across England.

On the last day of February 2024, over 200 delegates attended the Early Years Stronger Practice Hubs National Shared Learning and Dissemination event, which celebrated the achievements of the 18 Hubs across England since the programme was launched in November 2022.

The event was organised and delivered by the National Children's Bureau (NCB), with support from the Department for Education (DfE) and the programme's evidence partner the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF).

The 18 Hubs (two in each of the government office regions in England) provide advice, share good practice and offer evidence-based professional development for early years practitioners. 

Find out more about the Early Years Stronger Practice Hubs

The event began with a specially recorded welcome from the Minister for Children, Families and Wellbeing, David Johnston MP, who said that over 7,000 Early Years settings were now signed up as part of their local hubs network membership.  "I want to thank the Hubs for playing such an integral and important role in our mission to address the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on the youngest children,” he said.

Minister for Children David Johnston speaking at Stronger Practice Hubs Learning event

David Johnston MP, Children's Minister, thanked the Hubs for their role in addressing the impact of the pandemic on the youngest children

Alice Ashworth, Team Leader Stronger Practice Hubs at the DfE's Early Years Quality, Recovery and Welfare Division, hailed the programme as a success and said that it was "led by the sector for the sector", with support offered to the full breadth of the sector, from school-based nurseries, private voluntary and independent nurseries and childminders. She added after travelling across England to meet a number of the Partners within each Hub that "it has been so exciting to see it all come to life over the last year".

Gill Holden, NCB's Early Childhood Programme Lead, outlined the aims of the Stronger Practice Hubs programme and its biggest areas of success so far. This included several referrals to other DfE funded sector support initiatives, newsletters shared that signposted to evidence-informed support and training, providing blogs, and organising events for early years professionals.  

Sarah Tillotson, Early Years and Stronger Practice Hub Lead at EEF described how evidence and evidence-informed practice sit at the heart of the Early Years Stronger Practice Hubs initiative. “Evidence is there to make more informed decisions about the children in your care,” she told the delegates and demonstrated how working with a number of settings on a range of themes, including communication and language, mathematics and personal, social and emotional development was generating greater understanding to expand and deepen the early years evidence base.

EEF slide from Stronger Practice Hubs Learning and Dissemination Event

Before delegates were invited to choose from a range of workshops covering SEND, working with childminders, supporting children with speech, language & communication, maintaining effective partnerships, showcasing evidence-based practice and professional development, four Hubs shared their journeys and successes: Northern Lights Early Years Stronger Practice Hubs North East, Early Years South West Stronger Practice Hub, Thrive Together Early Years Stronger Practice Hub (West Midlands), and The Great North Early Years Stronger Practice Hub.

Slide from Stronger Practice Hubs Learning and Dissemination Event

Quote shared by the Northern Lights Early Years Stronger Practice Hub North East

Slide from Stronger Practice Hubs Learning and Dissemination Event

The Thrive Together Early Years Stronger Practice Hub shared its key successes along with three other Hubs