Research

The impact of place-based approach on literacy outcomes in the early years

Added 19 Oct 2020

This report looks at the impact of the Hub approach on early years attainment in the National Literacy Trust’s three longest running Hubs: Middlesbrough (since 2013), Bradford (since 2015) and Peterborough (since 2017). By looking at improvements in Hub-supported settings and comparing those to national averages, it explores whether early literacy and communication improved in these areas.

The evidence also suggests that Hubs played an important role in supporting local authorities to improve early years provision. Across every data set, local authority improvements in early years outcomes were higher than improvements seen in the national average.

For example, in:

  • Middlesbrough, the attainment gap in literacy halved between 2013 and 2015 for supported settings compared with the national average, reducing from 22.8 percentage points (pp) in 2013 to 11.3pp in 2015. These improvements continued between 2015 and 2017, with Hub-supported settings and local authority schools seeing a bigger increase in children achieving the expected level in literacy than the national average (4.4pp for Hub settings, 2.7pp nationally).
  • In Bradford, Hub settings and the local authority saw improvements that were more than twice the national average: supported settings went from 60% to 64.3% of children achieving at least the expected standard in literacy between 2015 and 2017 (a 4.3pp improvement), the local authority from 64.3% to 68.5% (4.2pp), while the national average improved by just 2pp (70.1% to 72.1%).
  • Peterborough saw a rapid improvement at a time when the national picture remained static. Between 2017 and 2019, Hub-supported settings in Peterborough saw improvements above the local authority level while the national picture remained static. In literacy, the target settings supported by the Hub improved by 12.1pp, while the local authority saw a steady growth of 3pp over the same time period, both occurring at a time of a stationary national picture (75.2% to 75.3%).

Overall, the findings in this report suggest:

Hubs can help settings close the early years attainment gap

Across all the data sets, these supported settings consistently improved at a faster pace than the national average, meaning that these low-performing settings experienced improvements within a two-year period that saw them substantially close the gap with average scores in the rest of the country.

The Hubs support and complement the work of local authorities

In every instance, local authorities saw a rate of improvement in the percentage of children achieving the expected level in literacy and communication/language that was higher than the national average.

The Hub model can help give children the best start in life

While the outcomes considered here were primarily concerned with the attainment level at Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), the impact of this will likely be felt throughout these children’s lives. We have seen that, before the delivery of Hubs, a troubling percentage of children in these communities did not meet the national standards for early literacy and communication.