Designing and delivering a programme of shared learning and development support for The National Lottery Community Fund.
A Better Start is a ten-year (2015-2025), £215 million programme set up by The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK.
Five A Better Start partnerships, based in Blackpool, Bradford, Lambeth, Nottingham and Southend, are supporting families to give their babies and very young children the best possible start in life.
Working with local parents, the A Better Start partnerships are developing and testing ways to improve their children’s diet and nutrition, social and emotional development, and speech, language and communication.
The work of the programme is grounded in scientific evidence and research. A Better Start is place-based and enabling systems change. It aims to improve the way that organisations work together and with families to shift attitudes and spending towards preventing problems that can start in early life. A Better Start is one of five major programmes set up by The National Lottery Community Fund to test and learn from new approaches to designing services which aim to make people’s lives healthier and happier.
To support this work, NCB is designing and delivering an ambitious programme of shared learning and development support for A Better Start, working within, across and beyond the five partnership areas.
Our aim is to amplify the impact of these programmes by:
Embedding a culture of learning within and between the partnerships.
Harnessing the best available evidence about what works in improving outcomes for children.
Sharing the partnerships’ experiences in creating innovative services far and wide, so that others working in early childhood development or place-based systems change can benefit.
Over the remaining years of A Better Start, NCB is coordinating several strands of work to share learning and pave the way for better services, and ultimately better outcomes, for young children.
This work is co-designed with our stakeholders, and includes drawing on the first-hand experiences of children and families themselves. It includes:
Coordinating ‘Communities of Practice’ to bring together practitioners within the partnerships to share learning on what works and develop practitioner focuses solutions to improve service delivery.
Organising a programme of events including knowledge-sharing events and an annual conference.
Developing an exciting schedule of content based around the A Better Start website, including webinars, blogs, reports, articles, a stakeholder newsletter and case studies.
Annual learning event
Every year NCB organises a national conference to share learning from A Better Start. On 22 March 2022, the event was 'Reducing Inequalities in Early Childhood: Learning from A Better Start'. The full agenda is available on our event page here. You can read a report summarising the event here, and there is a video recording of the event too.
Latest reports by NCB on behalf of A Better Start
Trauma-informed practice in early child development provides a summary of emerging evidence in the area of childhood trauma and adversity, and shares the learning on how ABS partnerships have embedded an awareness of the impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) within their work, and how they are supporting the development of traumainformed practice, within and outside of their partnerships.
Building on the report below and the debate and presentations at our national conference on co-production - Parents in the Driving Seat - our report entitled Parent, Family and Community Engagement - Learning from A Better Start shows the many ways in which co-production has been embraced across the programme.
Co-Producing early years support with parents, families and children is central to everything we do. Our 'insight' report, A Better Start Through Better Systems - Parent, Family and Community Engagement, was produced to inform debate at our first annual conference.
Our programme ‘insight’ report Responding to COVID-19 highlights how the pandemic is affecting young children and their families and shares insights from A Better Start partnerships as they work to understand the impact of the pandemic, and respond to emerging needs.
Our previous programme report, A Better Start through Better Systems, highlights contemporary approaches to effective systems change and includes case studies from across the five A Better Start partnerships.
Written in February 2020, A Better Start: Five Years of Learning celebrates the achievements of the A Better Start partnerships as they completed their first five years, drawing on the voices of practitioners and members of local communities to highlight their impact.
Addressing the 'baby blindspot' in child mental health support
In June 2021, The five A Better Start partnerships came together to provide a free webinar on infant mental health support. Find out more here.
For further information about NCB’s A Better Start – Shared Learning and Development Programme, email: email@example.com
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