NCB has worked in partnership with Oldham since January 2018 to support delivery of the Raising Early Achievement in Literacy (REAL) project* in targeted wards - where children have relatively low attainment at the end of reception.
Over 250 families took part in thirty schools and participated in a series of eight home visits and literacy events with their teachers across the nursery and reception years.
The results for children are extremely encouraging with project children making accelerated progress in communication, language and literacy from nursery baseline to the end of reception in the EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage) compared to a similar cohort of children in other schools. They have also developed a real love for reading, rhyme and writing. EYFS Profile results 2019 confirm a 4% increase in the number of children with a good level of development in Oldham. This is a remarkable achievement and a much stronger increase than comparable local authorities.
The teachers and parents are in no doubt about the success of REAL. Teachers worked with great commitment, enthusiasm and creativity – despite some initial nervousness about taking learning into homes. Typical comments include:
"We have really enjoyed working with the families. Taking part in REAL has given us the chance to do this. I don't think we would have ever got the chance, confidence or resources to engage parents like this if it wasn't for the project, so a big thank you to you and REAL for giving us that."
"It’s the home visits – we’ve struggled with this for so many years and nothing has ever worked like this. It’s intimidating for parents to come into schools – this way you give them confidence, a familiar face."
REAL in Oldham challenges the common belief that parents are ‘not interested’ in their child’s education or are ‘difficult to engage’. Families took to the project with enthusiasm. 91% participated well and 75% at the highest levels (getting involved in home visits, most events and completing tasks between visits).
Families expressed their deeply-felt appreciation for the project:
"The REAL project has really benefited my child, we are sad it is coming to an end. Pam has taught me new ways to help and support Mindy, she has also given me confidence and support as a mum."
"When you approached us about the REAL project I was nervous about letting teachers into my home, but you made me and my child feel comfortable and worked around me. She was very, very clingy when starting school but after a few home visits she seemed to settle and would talk about what we did on the visits. I feel we both really benefited and we share ideas with friends and cousins. Our confidence about learning has improved. I highly recommend the REAL project to other parents."
*the REAL project in Oldham is supported through DfE Opportunity Area funding.