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Early Years Stronger Practice Hub

My name is Emma Whelam-Tate and I’m honoured to introduce myself to you as the Director of the Northern Lights Early Years Stronger Practice Hub. I started my journey in Early Years as a nursery nurse working in a deprived area of Sunderland, supporting children and families with English as an additional language. This opportunity sparked a deep-rooted passion for the sector and I knew then that this is where I was meant to be. Through further education, I progressed to a senior practitioner and then into teaching, specialising in child development and early education with the 0-5 age range. My passion for the sector and working with others excelled my career into leadership, where I have had the privilege of leading a team of nine practitioners and 90 children, as well as working with and supporting a large range of settings across region. I firmly believe that high quality professional development and collaboration with others can unite the Early Years workforce as we come together to achieve greater outcomes for our children. I look forward to becoming a familiar face and working with you all through the Early Years Stronger Practice Hub.

We are delighted to announce that we have a full team at Northern Lights Early Years Stronger Practice Hub! Our official partners are:

Linthorpe Primary

We are delighted to be able to represent the whole early years sector and provide expert and specialist support for 0-5 including SEND.

Northern Lights Guiding Principles

What is the Northern Lights SPH vision?

Our vision is to work with the whole Early Years sector with children from birth to pre reception and practitioners from childminders, the PVI sector, maintained nursery schools and early years settings within primary schools. This will unite the workforce to create a successful Stronger Practice Hub which will support our young, vulnerable and disadvantaged children as we recover from the impact of Covid-19. Our SHP will provide a ‘buzz’ of regular activity within the sector as we work towards uniting the workforce to overcome current challenges through engaging and responsive social media, online learning portals and face-to-face events. We will work in collaboration with our SPH partners and associates to provide high quality professional development that is based upon local intelligence and is responsive to the needs of the communities we serve. We will proactively share best practice examples of evidenced informed practice which will support practitioners to improve outcomes for our children. Through the delivery of our EEF programmes, we will provide quality professional development which is aimed at supporting children’s learning and development in the areas that have been significantly impacted by Covid.

Frequently Asked Questions

As a DfE designated Early Years Stronger Practice Hub, our remit is to work directly with the sector to provide advice, share practice through local experts, and offer evidence-based professional development for all early years practitioners of children from birth to reception.

How will we support you?

As a Stronger Practice Hub, we understand the needs and challenges currently facing the Early Years sector and we appreciate how difficult it can be for practitioners to engage in professional development. Our aim is to provide accessible opportunities for everyone and we will work in a way that works for you. We aim to provide a range of learning platforms from face-to-face events, online learning, blogs and case studies, regular and engaging social media posts, webinars and video exemplification material that will support practitioners to apply evidence to practice.

What is the DfE EY Covid Recovery Programme?

The programme is funded through the £153m Early Years Covid Recovery package that the Government announced to address the impact of the pandemic on the youngest children, focusing on those most disadvantaged. The Stronger Practice Programme includes the Online Child Development Training, a free child development training for all EY practitioners; the Experts and Mentors Programme providing in-setting support to the workforce; and the Stronger Practice Hubs, all underpinned by the EYFS reforms.

What is an Early Years Stronger Practice Hub?

‘A strong provider of pre-reception early years education with sound expertise and knowledge of the evidence base on what works to support child outcomes – trusted local experts that other early years providers can look to for advice and support’

•The SPH works directly with the sector to identify priority needs and provide responsive professional development.

•The SPH will create opportunities for collaboration and sharing evidence informed practice through a range of face to face and online network opportunities.

•The SPH will work with the sector to identify strong settings who will become a base for bespoke support.

The DfE overarching aim for the hub is:

‘To help pre-reception early years settings adopt evidence-based practice improvements to address key Covid recovery issues, and build trusted networks for sharing effective practice’

We aim to do this by:

•Providing high quality professional development to practitioners to improve outcomes for pupils in disadvantaged areas and our young and vulnerable children who have been impacted by Covid

•Creating networks of support across the sector to provide evidence informed practice to improve outcomes for children.

•Working with Local Authorities, the Expert and Mentors programme and the Childminder mentor programme to identify settings to support with bespoke support, funding to access EEF programmes as well as advice and sharing best practice.

The role of DfE, NCB and the EEF in the SPH

Education Endowment Foundation are the Evidence Partner and will provide an introduction to an evidence-based Framework on what works to support child outcomes, to underpin the work of the Hubs, and support hubs to translate evidence into practice.

The Early Years Evidence Store been designed to support Stronger Practice Hubs work with early years providers, but it can be used by everyone working in the early years.

National Children’s Bureau as Delivery Partner will lead the relationships with the Hubs, providing oversight and quality assurance. They will also facilitate best practice and intelligence sharing between the Hubs.

The Department for Education work closely with NCB an EEF to ensure the government vision for Hubs is met.

EEF Programmes

Early Talk Boost

Early Talk Boost is a targeted intervention aimed at 3-4 year old children with delayed language helping to boost their language skills to narrow the gap between them and their peers. The programme aims to accelerate children’s progress in language and communication by an average of six months, after a nine week intervention. Children who are selected to take part in the intervention will attend three sessions per week during circle/story time, each lasting 15-20 minutes delivered by an early years practitioner. The sessions include activities that cover the foundation skills in speech, language and communication that children need for learning and understanding new words, as well as having conversations.

Communication Friendly Settings

Elklan Communication Friendly Setting (CFSe) accreditation is awarded to settings that have trained and support all their staff in communication and language development. Accreditation can be achieved in one year and can be renewed after three years. It is the most cost-effective strategy available for whole-setting capacity building in communication. Becoming a CFSe involves three steps:1.1 in 10 practitioners complete Elklan’s ‘Speech and Language Support for 3-5s’ and/or ‘Speech and Language Support for 0-3s’ course at Level 3.2.At least one of these practitioners, cascades training to ALL staff in your setting using our course ‘Communication Counts’. They are known as Lead Communication Practitioners (LCPs). We provide the teaching notes, mentoring and resources to facilitate this and support LCPs to achieve Level 4 accreditation. 3.Embedding of the training will be demonstrated through an audit at the end of the programme, evidencing the impact on practices and policies within the setting.



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Social Media

Facebook: Northern Lights Early Years Stronger Practice Hub

Instagram: northernlightseyhub

Twitter: NLightsEYHub

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