New training boost for education students

Edge Hill University and the National Children’s Bureau (NCB) are working together to provide an exciting literacy training programme to students studying Early Years Education for the first time in the UK.

Making it REAL (Raising Early Achievement in Literacy) is an evidence-based programme that gives educators the ability to support parents and guardians using a specific framework to help their children with early reading and writing at home.

The project has been developed further and will now be offered to Edge Hill’s Early Years Education students thanks to the university’s new partnership with the Early Childhood Unit at the NCB.

Lecturer in early years education, Laura Gregory, said: “Making it REAL is usually offered to practitioners already in post. Thanks to our partnership with the NCB our students will be given the skills to support parents and recognise opportunities to enhance early literacy with their children at home.

“This has never been done before in any university in the UK and will massively enhance our student’s employability and boost their confidence and competence in supporting early literacy in a huge range of environments.”

Making it REAL forms part of the government’s wider social mobility plan based on studies of pre-school education that found that the home learning environment made a significant difference in children’s learning.

This pilot year will train up to 60 students and three members of staff will be able to “Train the Trainer” meaning they can deliver the programme to future students at Edge Hill University.

Gill Holden, early childhood programme lead at NCB, said: “We’re very excited to be partnering with Laura and her team and embedding the principles of Making it REAL into the programme of learning for Early Years Education students for the first time.

“Engaging parents in their children’s early literacy development has been shown to improve children’s outcomes and help to narrow the gap between disadvantaged and other children and the Making it REAL programme provides a framework to do that.”

Laura Gregory added that in the long term, three of Edge Hill’s early years lecturers will be trained on how to deliver the course. She said this will cement Edge Hill’s partnership with the NCB and will make it the only university able to offer this training as part of its degree programmes.

BA (Hons) primary early years education (with QTS) student Melissa Burrows said: “I have really enjoyed the training and looking forward to putting it to use. It has really emphasised the importance of reading and how to involve parents and get them involved to benefit their children.”

REAL was developed in the 1990s by the NCB and the University of Sheffield, building on a study by Professor Cathy Nutbrown. It began as a project aimed at boosting literacy in the home learning environment and has been developed into an effective framework to support parents.

Since it began, the project has been assessed and the results have shown it has a range of benefits and that home learning makes a significant difference in learning. 

Find out more about Making it REAL here.

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