Education Observatory

Research in Education at the University of Wolverhampton

Play@Home project

Evaluation: Black Country Early Outcomes

The University of Wolverhampton Education Observatory was commissioned in August 2019 to evaluate the Black Country Early Outcomes project outputs. The project has been focused on addressing weaknesses around speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) and raise standards and outcomes in all four Black Country Local Authorities (Wolverhampton, Dudley, Sandwell and Walsall).

Children, Young People & Families
Completed Projects
Early Years

Funder: Department for Education
Research Leads: Dr Zeta Williams-Brown and Prof. Michael Jopling

The Early Outcomes project was a yearlong project funded by the Department for Education that started in August 2019 and ended August 2020. The project’s main objectives were to eradicate siloed working creating a multi-agency vision, strategies and pathways, utilise early identification by upskilling the wider workforce and improve school readiness and Good Level of Development (GLD) outcomes. 

The project had an unprecedented multiagency approach where 12 education professionals, Health Visitors and Speech and Language therapists from all four Black Country LAs were seconded to collectively work on the project.  There was also a strong partnership established with the National Literacy Trust (NLT). 

The project had numerous outputs in all for LAs that included:

  • Pop up literacy hubs organised in collaboration with the NLT in identified areas of need aimed at supporting parents and children. 
  • NLT Hello training provided to practitioners that included a toolkit to develop practice and promote young children’s language development from birth to 5.
  • Developing a universal Health/SALT pathway of services across the Black Country.
  • Early Talk Boost training provided to practitioners, which is evidence based communication, speech and language intervention for children aged 3-4 produced by ICAN.
  • Consultation across a wide audience including professionals, settings, parents and children to develop a Black Country supporting school readiness document

From March 2020 the outputs of the project changed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Outputs then included online activity packs supported by the NLT, an ‘Early outcomes’ online pack for practitioners and parents and information packs for parent volunteers. 

The University of Wolverhampton, Education Observatory completed the projects evaluation report in August 2020.  The report recommended that professionals across disciplines and LAs need opportunities to be able to work together to ensure messages delivered to parents are consistent and considerate of their areas of specialism.  The report evidences positive impact from outputs including the pop-up literacy hubs, Early Talk Boost training and collaborative online resources.  Findings show that the multiagency approach evident in this project enabled the team to collaboratively design and deliver unique events and resources.