Westminster Education Forum

From birth to starting school - next steps for child development support, policy and practice in England

Morning, Tuesday, 2nd April 2019

Central London


This seminar will examine priorities for supporting child development from birth to starting formal education - focusing on meeting the needs of families, developing cognitive skills and literacy, and next steps for multi-agency working and early intervention.

It comes as:

  • Government commits £18m in funding for disadvantaged families to nurture children’s development at home, increase parents confidence and improve children’s early language and literacy;
  • A cross-Government working group is set up to review the support available to families in the period from childbirth to age two;
  • The Education Select Committee conducts an inquiry into the impact that early years education has on determining a child’s life chances; and
  • Follows an inquiry by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee looking at evidence-based early intervention including the strength of evidence linking adverse childhood experiences with long-term negative outcomes.

Overall, areas for discussion include:

  • How stakeholders can work to improve the ‘home learning environment’ to encourage children’s progression prior to school;
  • Next steps in improving speech, language, communication and cognitive skills early on in a child’s development and identifying need early on. This follows the trialing of revised Early Learning goals by the Department for Education in the Autumn, which saw changes to five of the key overall goals;
  • Implementing an effective multi-agency approach to child development and supporting parents, building upon the current provision of progress checks at different stages of a child’s initial years;
  • Priorities for developing successful models of early intervention following calls from the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee for Government to develop an English early intervention strategy; and
  • The steps taken by nurseries and schools to support children’s transition to formal education via the EYFS profile.

Keynote Speakers

Rt Hon Norman Lamb MP

Chair, House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee

Senior speaker confirmed from the Department for Education


Jan Dubiel

Head of National and International Development, Early Excellence

Jonathan Douglas

Director, National Literacy Trust

Michael Freeston

Director of Quality Improvement, Pre-school Learning Alliance

Bob Reitemeier

Chief Executive, I CAN