Making a REAL difference to children in Warwickshire

Thirteen large projects in Warwickshire have been awarded funding from the Smart Start programme to improve school readiness in Warwickshire. One project ‘Making it REAL in Warwickshire’ set out to work with families and children from 2-5 years to improve literacy and language.

Colleagues from children’s centres, libraries, nurseries, schools and health visitors attended training from National Children’s Bureau in REAL (Raising Early Achievement in Literacy).

Over the last year these trained professionals, ‘Family Learning tutors’, delivered the five week course to 345 families in the most deprived localities, with over 400 children attending. The tutors made home visits, took families to local libraries to become members and attend story sessions, took families on environmental print walks and held session in venues to support early writing skills and oral language.


The outcomes exceeded both the projects team’s expectations and the national results of REAL. Some of the highlights to date are:

• 92% of families have noticed an increase in their children mark making, with 72% of children saying what it represents

• 98% of families reported that the course had given them ideas of activities to do at home

• 91% have noticed an increase in their child enjoying and joining in with stories

• 92% have noticed an increase in their child singing rhymes

• 81% of families are now library members

• 78% of adults intend to do more Family Learning or other Adult Education courses.

Some of the families that took part in the REAL courses explain what they achieved:

“I have learnt how to play with my child in different ways”

“I have gained a stronger bonding experience with my child”

“My granddaughter had a great time and it was fun to do. I have also taken up reading again which is brilliant.”

“Got library membership, more confidence, and good friends.”

Jan Lennon, Family Learning Programme Manager explains “We were delighted to have received a Smart Start grant which has enabled us to deliver the REAL programme. In April we will undertake training in REAM (Raising Early Achievement in Maths) which will enhance our family learning offer to families across Warwickshire.”

Helen King, Deputy Director of Public Health at Warwickshire County Council said “The results from the ‘Making it REAL’ programme have surpassed initial expectations and are making a real difference to families in Warwickshire. It is great to see our Smart Start programme helping local projects to play their part in improving school readiness in Warwickshire.”

For more information about the Smart Start projects or the Smart Start programme visit