Our 2023 Talk To Your Baby conference took place at Birmingham’s Midlands Arts Centre where examined how, despite recent and long-term challenges within the sector, exciting innovations and a coordinated call for action are providing hope for the future.
Since 2019, the Talk To Your Baby conference – which was online in 2021 and 2022 - has explored the importance of the home learning environment to wellbeing and language development in the first 1,001 days of a child’s life, and the important contribution of rigorous public provision. At Talk To Your Baby 2022, we drew these strands together and explored and celebrated the incredible work being done by practitioners locally, nationally and internationally.
In January 2023, Talk to Your Baby Conference was held in person for the first time in three years! Before we look back at the sessions from our 2023 conference, why not book your place to be at the 2024 Talk to Your Baby conference to experience it for yourself?
Early years – the last 10 years
Birmingham native Dr Valerie Daniel, who has 14 years’ experience as a Maintained Nursery School head teacher and is currently an Executive Head of two nursery schools, kick started the conference with an overview of the past ten years of the EY sector and the resulting challenges. Dr Daniel argued that the “EYS in the UK is immense and complex” and that “practitioners, professionals and stakeholders need to work together to lobby for sustainable strategic change”.
Tracy Jackson OBE, our Head of Early Years, provided an update on organisation work in the early years across the West Midlands.
What early childhood looks like today
The Nuffield Foundation evidence review series, The changing face of early childhood in Britain provides current recommendations for policy and practice. Eleanor Ireland, Education Programme Head at Nuffield, explored the key points from her Time for Parents review, taken from this series, which explores the relationship between parenting and child outcomes. The review’s aim is to reflect on the insights offered up by the conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic in order to learn the best way to support parents and improve child outcomes.
Conversations about how to support children with diverse needs have catalysed the Dfe SEND green paper. Following on from this, Professor Jonathan Green from the University of Manchester provided a thorough overview of his delivery of a scalable social communication intervention for young children with autism.
Born in Bradford is an internationally-recognized research programme which utilizes longitudinal data to find out what keeps families healthy and happy. We were so pleased that Professor Cecile De Cat from the University of Leeds could join us to speak about her work in contribution to the study which aims to assess and support the needs of multilingual children.
The future of early years
With a cost of living crisis as the backdrop to the conference and with large scale innovations underway, we finished the conference with a snapshot of what the future in early years might look like. How might the digital world provide opportunities for supporting language and learning in the home? Dr Daniel Matthews explored this question when she reported on findings from the randomised control trial carried out on BBC Tiny Happy People. Finally, Dr Abigail Miranda, Head of Early Years and Prevention at the Anna Freud Centre, examined how a drive to create localized hubs of activity will offer tailored, quality support to the most vulnerable families from conception through to adulthood when she presents on their National Centre for Family Hubs initiative.
Thank you to our brilliant speakers and to those who joined us in Birmingham for another amazing and insightful conference!