NIACE response to Early Intervention review

21 January 2011

Graham Allen MP’s Early Intervention: The Next Steps – published Wednesday 19 January – makes a strong case for investing in the ‘social and emotional bedrock’ of children from a young age. These social and emotional capabilities, argues the review, are critical building blocks that, in the long term, help to reduce truancy, anti-social behaviour, crime, health problems and a host of undesirable outcomes. Moreover, intervening early in children’s lives will increase the likelihood of them being more effective parents in the future.

The review identifies a number of programmes that meet, or are close to meeting, a range of demanding criteria for proving their effectiveness, and recommends that future expansion of early intervention programmes favours those with a strong evidence base.

Mandy Thomas, a Senior Project at NIACE’s Centre for the Learning Family, said:

“While the review focuses quite rightly on areas where families are potentially failing, NIACE argues that this can be complemented by building the capabilities of the whole family to be a mutually supportive, sustainable bedrock for developing the potential of all its members through learning, which transforms lives, often in immeasurable ways.”

“NIACE’s concept of the learning family is vital here. A learning family is one where every member is a lifelong learner in their own right; where the intergenerational combination of encouragement and involvement in each other’s learning activities by all family members, raises aspirations and creates a long-term change in the culture and patterns of learning.”

“Parents and carers learn literacy skills, numeracy skills, learn about history or art or healthy eating – not only to help with their children’s learning, but also to improve their own confidence, skills and prospects. This has a positive effect on their children’s learning as well as building family resilience, and on a wider scale creating community well-being, economic prosperity and social cohesion.”

“We must never lose sight of the purpose – to improve and enhance the lives and potential of families and individuals – especially those most disadvantaged. And to achieve this – learning has a hugely significant role to play.”