Home-Start has developed the unique Big Hopes Big Future programme in England to work directly with parents and children and help them to build the skills they need to be ready for the first day of school.

Around 600,000 five year olds start school for the first time each September, yet a recent study estimated that almost half will not be ready for education.

The result is that teachers are spending increasing amounts of time and resources helping children who do not have basic skills such as being able to hold a pencil, recognising their name when it’s written down, or being toilet trained.

Big Hopes Big Future trains Home-Start’s volunteers to use original, specially produced materials for working directly with the young children in the families they are supporting. They help develop reading, writing, numeracy, and understanding of the routines of the school day.

Funded by the Department for Education, Home-Start has trained volunteers in more than 90 communities in England, which are now working with schools and local authorities to identify children who aren’t ready to start school and to help them catch up.

The project specifically targeted the most disadvantaged families including those who did not readily engage with their children’s early learning because they lacked confidence or felt alienated from the education system. Families also lacked the books and toys needed to support their children’s learning. Many had chaotic lifestyles or had poor health, disability, or English was not a first language.

Pippa Goodhart, the award-winning author of over 90 books for children and patron of Home-Start Cambridgeshire, supports Home-Start’s  Big Hopes Big Future project. She says:

It is well recognised that a child's readiness for school at the age of four can have a profound and ongoing impact on his or her future educational achievement, and also on their happiness and social comfort. I wholeheartedly support Big Hopes Big Future

Refer a family to your local Home-Start.

Find out how you can volunteer to help get children ready for school.

Find out more about the impact of this project on children and families in our press release