Home-Start has developed the unique Big Hopes Big Future programme 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.

Masonic Charitable Foundation logoSince 2019, The Masonic Charitable Foundation has supported Home-Start to deliver Big Hopes Big Future in England and Wales and who are are now working with schools and local authorities to identify children who could benefit from extra support before they start school.

Kelly Sims’ daughter Matilda was excited about starting school after she worked with Debbie, a volunteer from Home-Start Corby. Kelly said: “I’d been worrying about how Matilda would be able to cope with school. Thanks to Debbie’s support Matilda was more than ready. Watching Matilda talk excitedly about school still fills me with so much happiness. I feel secure as a mum that she has been given everything she needs to get the very best start."

Read more about Kelly and Matilda.

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