Skip to main content

Improving the home learning environment

A behaviour change approach

The Rt. Hon Damian Hinds, Secretary of State for Education, set a clear ambition to halve the proportion of children who do not achieve at least expected levels across all goals in the ‘communication and language’ and ‘literacy’ areas of learning at the end of reception year by 2028.

Achieving this ambition requires a society-wide approach to promoting early language development and early literacy skills. We have an early years sector to be proud of, underpinned by the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). The improvements in children’s outcomes at age 5 that we have seen since 2013 are testament to the commitment and dedication of early years practitioners across the country. It is also true that virtually all parents want the best for their children. Despite this, we need to do more – 28% of children currently leave reception without the communication and literacy skills they need to thrive. We need to support language development in all areas of a child’s life, not just the hours they spend in early years settings.

Across the country, early years professionals, speech and language therapists, local authorities, schools, libraries, charities and social enterprises are working with parents and carers to help them support their children’s early language development. Many businesses are also already actively engaged, helping parents and carers through their products and brands, and championing early language development as employers.

This behaviour change model brings together the latest evidence and draws on the experience of what works on the ground, from speaking to those working with families every day. It attempts to set out a behaviour change approach that all organisations operating in this space can use to inform their activities, to ensure that the messages we are delivering to families are consistent and evidence based. Our hope is that having this information in one place will encourage more organisations, especially businesses, to get involved and work together to ensure that all children have the early language and literacy skills they need to succeed throughout their lives.

This document is intended to be a living document, to be updated as new evidence emerges and as practice develops. This document has been coproduced with the National Literacy Trust and Public Health England. We have also consulted widely with other sector experts, a full list is included at Annex A.

In this document where we refer to parents, we also mean carers.