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A modern-day village to raise our children


30 Jan 2019

EIF assistant director Ben Lewing sets out the vision behind our new Early Years Transformation Academy programme.

I’ve always liked the idea of a village raising a child, a whole community helping our young to grow and learn within the safe space created by people that love and care for them. This is the idea at the heart of the Early Years Transformation Academy (EYTA) which EIF launched earlier this week: using great local leadership to build a culture of shared responsibility for our children, investing in families and joining up what organisations do – building the village, or early childhood system, that raises our children.

Right now, we’re busy recruiting local partners to join the Academy – you can find out more in the EYTA Prospectus. We know that staying the course on this intensive approach is a tough ask in the current climate. Public sector pressures are influencing every choice that local partners make about how they support families. But we also know that there is a huge local appetite for building a sustainable system-wide approach for families, particularly those that are vulnerable. People want to build the village, and they want it to last.

The Academy responds to the barriers that we identified in our recent report, Realising the potential of early intervention, and the importance of taking a longer-term view if we are to see the benefits of early intervention. The report talks about “changing the rules of the game” if we are to make the “long-term investment, coordinated across all agencies with an interest” that successful delivery of early intervention depends on. We often hear that maternity and early years services are insufficiently joined up to provide a truly coherent and seamless approach for families. This joining up has to happen at the local level – and this is where the Academy comes in, providing a mandate for the local experts to make things happen, time to use their skills and knowledge to build a more sustainable and joined-up approach, and access to the latest research and practice evidence.

So in March 2020, when the 2019/20 Academy cohort graduates, I know this: we will have used the latest evidence to create real local solutions that bring out the best of our communities and organisations; we will have shared a journey with passionate and inspirational people; and we will have learned a lot from each other, pooling our different professional skills and experiences. Now that is something worth being part of.

About the author

Ben Lewing

Ben is assistant director, policy & practice, at EIF.