Hungry Little Minds and how the DfE is partnering with the IOW

In this episode we are joined by our two guests Rukhsana Hussain who is part of the Early Years Social Mobility team at the Department of Education and Mike Kelly who is the CEO, Chairman and Founder of The Institute of Wellbeing.

The Department for Education shares with us more about their recent national campaign “Hungry Little Minds” and the IOW give us insight into how they are taking this national campaign and delivering the messages locally.  You will hear from both organisations as to why they believe it is important for parents to help their child develop good language and literacy skills through chat, playing and reading together.

– David Shosanya
Good afternoon listeners. We’ve got another podcast coming to you from the desk of the Institute of Wellbeing, all the w’s, The Institute of Wellbeing dot com. Our two guests today are Rukhsana Hussain who is part of the Early Years Social Mobility team at the Department of Education and Mike Kelly who is the CEO, Chairman and Founder of The Institute of Wellbeing.

– David Shosanya
Welcome to this podcast Rox and welcome to this podcast Mike.

– Mike Kelly
Good afternoon David. Good to see you.

– Rox Hussain
Good afternoon. Thank you for having me.

– David Shosanya
Absolute pleasure. We’ve got a couple of questions but can I ask you just want to talk to you about a bit about this campaign you do in the Hungry Little Minds campaign that the Institute of Wellbeing is involved at the moment as a partner with the DfE. Rox I wonder if you’d just take a few moments just tell us a bit about the Hungry Little Minds campaign and what does the Department for Education the DfE want to achieve through its partners.

– Rox Hussain
Okay. So improving early communication language and literacy is a key priority for the government and we know that some of the poorest kids in the UK start school behind their peers and the gap can grow between their school years. So in July 2018 we announce government ambition to halve in 10 years portion of children that finish reception school without communication language and literacy skills they need to thrive. It’s a big ambition and we know that. So as part of that endeavour, DfE launched Hungry Little Minds which is a three-year campaign to encourage parents and carers to engage in activities that support their children’s early language and help set them up for school and beyond.

The campaign is seeking to highlight. It’s never too late to help develop your child’s communication and literacy skills and will also provide practical advice through our partners on how to fit quality interactions in parents daily routines. It’s as simple as that.

Okay. The campaign is seeking to highlight it’s never too late to help develop your child’s communication, language and literacy skills and will also provide practical advice to our partners on how to fit quality interactions in parents daily routines. It’s as simple as that.

– David Shosanya
Thank you very much. It gives us a real clear understanding and tell us DfE’s working in a number of partners, can you tell us how you identified those partners.

– Rox Hussain
So in terms of working with partners we, kind of started from a robust evidence based. We worked with our behavioural insights team and then we commissioned 73 research sessions across the country hundred and four parents carers and we also then engaged with a range of early years stakeholders and like the IOW across the country and we got our partners to help us identify the best campaign approach to raise parental awareness interest and engagement to test some of the campaign elements including the brand, the tone and to understand the audiences from the different perspectives in terms of the audiences the partners serve and so that was it essentially and when we have a number of those strategic partners that we work with.

– David Shosanya
And the campaign was launched earlier this year, can you just tell us a bit about that campaign launch.

– Rox Hussain
Okay so we did a very soft launch in July 2018 so the campaign was launched and the idea was to kind of bring together a number of partners to be able to kind of take through the messages of the campaign. So it’s the idea is that you know you have a national campaign and then it’s the partners who will take those messages locally to embed those messages with parents.

– David Shosanya
Well thank you very much. That is a real absolute pleasure because I was able to attend that campaign launch at the Sanctuary Buildings in the West along with Mark Kelly who is the Chief Executive of the Institute of Wellbeing to see all the other partners and to hear very positive messages coming out from government and really wanted to congratulate you on what the DfE has achieved so far through this through this campaign.

– David Shosanya
Mike could you tell us how long has the Institute of Wellbeing been work in partnership with government agencies and what your unique approach and contributions to the Hungry Little Minds campaign.

– Mike Kelly
Well it’s an interesting question. I suppose the first one’s quite easy to answer. We started as an organisation in 1999 and we got our first bit of funding from the Lord Chancellor’s department back then again 2000.

– David Shosanya
That’s now the Ministry of Justice.

– Mike Kelly
The Ministry of Justice and since then we’ve had a longstanding strategic relationship with central government for national impact. The Hungry Little Minds Campaign I think is a necessary piece because as Rox mentioned the parents who want to see a change some activists including Sir Simon Woolley, there’s just so many change agents that exist and what we’ve done is carried that message to those agencies for them to deploy the message through their networks and I think it’s making a amazing impact. The campaign’s only been running a few months and everyone we’ve spoken to is actually quite excited about what our approach is. Just to add to our approach we we’ve generated what we call Wellbeing Champions.

Where there is an advocate within a setting that will represent what we’re doing, give information and material and set up groups if necessary to speak to parents to encourage them how to set up spaces and places within their own homes where chatting, playing and reading is taking place and we call those home learning environments. Sounds a bit technical but in essence it really is just a safe space the creative space where children chat, play and read but you may argue well I don’t actually have that sort of space at home – we’ve given you tools that you can just walk along to the shops with your child and you know engage with them in chatting, playing, counting the apples and looking at colours playing or jumping over the puddles as you go there and creating that connectivity because it’s not so much that children who are disadvantaged don’t play, but there’s the educational supplement added through the play through, the chatting, through the reading which gives confidence and helps children to actually do better at the age of five.

– David Shosanya
The Institute of Wellbeing has created a number of resources that are available to parents via your website. Just tell us about those resources how we can access them. I know you’ve got particular Black History Month resources available online because it is October but tell us a bit about the resources that are available online.

– Mike Kelly
Well there is quite a large number of resources and most of them are free. I’ll start with the paying ones first and we ski downhill. There’s courses online for practitioners who work in earlier settings who may want to understand how to improve children’s wellbeing within their setting. So that’s quite a professional course. There are parenting classes that someone who may think you know I’m not actually equipped to deal with my lovely little child and as the saying goes the children didn’t come with a manual. But then if we go down we’ve got policy papers where people can look at what has wellbeing got to do with dot dot dot.

These papers are great. Then there’s the specific pieces of work which you can download or information you can download to do with the Hungry Little Minds and they are from bookmarks to posters that you can put up in your setting. Leaflets giving you quick wins and hints and tips on how to incorporate chatting, playing and reading in your home. But then like you said there’s the Black History Month thing and you know encourages parents to help to have their children help them to cook to count to read.

As I said it’s very very simple but very impactful very bright and colourful messaging and like I said David you know it’s actually creating an impact. The take up has been pretty good. Most people respond to it favourably and I think more importantly, churches have been very keen to distribute that information. There’s been zero denials. There’s no one we’ve spoken to that said she’s not for me. So therefore we’re encouraged to continue.

– David Shosanya
And I know that this material as going is available to Mosques, Gudwaras, schools I know that The Institute of Wellbeing is doing some stuff in schools and with children’s departments and with various boroughs so it’s a busy time for the institute. So just to let people know that’s available online, all the w’s the Institute of Wellbeing dot com – lots of accessible information.

I also know if you download the Black History Month resource you can get access to the “don’t be a jerk chicken” recipe online and it’s a play on some of the stuff that’s been going on in the media lately with different organisations and companies trying to produce jerk recipes but there’s an authentic jerk recipe that you can get online once you download the Black History Month resource and you can cook a piece of chicken with a neighbour with your friends, cook a piece of chicken with your child and that’s just an easy way of helping a young child understand something about black history month while Rox we’ve heard a lot about chat, play and read, can you just tell us from the Department of Education point of view what is the importance of chat, play and read.

– Rox Hussain
So it’s as simple as it sounds. The evidence shows that engaging in activities like chat, play and read supports parent child interaction and that’s sort of crucial for child development and we also know that parents and home learning environment actually have the biggest influence in a child as opposed to the school. So it is really important that we encourage parents to do this in the home.

– David Shosanya
Wow. A bigger influence than the school. Most people would think the school has a bigger influence because they’re spending much more time there but the evidence says parents do.

– Rox Hussain
And that’s what we’re trying to encourage, that actually parents have a really critical role in preparing children and getting them ready for school and the role that they can play in closing the word gap.

– David Shosanya
Yeah I mean if you’re a parent listening to that I think that’s worth taking a few moments. Your child may be at school for six or seven hours a day. Maybe at a nursery, away from you for a period of the day, you may think you’ve only got three hours in the evening. But all the research is showing that the biggest impact that you can have on your child in terms of their formation during that period when their brain and or their social faculties are being informed is not the seven or six or five hours or three hours they spend in nursery, it’s how much time they spend with you.

– Rox Hussain
I think in terms of the 0 – 5 obviously as kids get older interaction in school is slightly different but at the 0-5 we know that the parent’s influence is the biggest.

– David Shosanya
Yeah I hear that and that’s the focus range for the Hungry Little Minds campaign and I think it’s something worth well noting as a parent.

– Mike Kelly
Can I quickly just add something, when we were designing our campaign material we wanted obviously to complement the Hungry little Minds campaign but we also wanted to make sure that it was accessible at a local level. Very targeted to specific groups. We had to consider the homeless. We had to consider those with overcrowded homes. We had to consider the parent who comes in late from work who may not have five hours in the evening to spend on their child. They may have other children they’ve got – let’s take a schoolteacher. They’re going to be working late in the evening. They’ve still got to prepare meals. So what we wanted to do was create products or information that was quite agile and user friendly for whatever state you find yourself in.

Like I said if you’re homeless you may think well this doesn’t apply to me because we don’t have a space in a home to create an environment, but as you go wherever you are this information is useful. So if you do get a chance as we’ve already highlighted that those tools, those hints those suggestions, are all over our Website.

– David Shosanya
Thank you very much. And just to remind you were talking to Rukhsana Hussain who is part of the Early Years Social Mobility team at the Department of Education and also to Mike Kelly who is the founder, CEO, Chairman of The Institute of Wellbeing and we’re talking about The Hungry Little Minds campaign and the importance of parent interaction with children between the age of 0-5. I’m then ask you another question in a minute Mike and I’m going to come back to you Rox and then give you your word as well to ask you how important we’ve talked about how important chat, play and read is.

I’m going to ask you each to just give a word of encouragement to parents of children who are in the 0-5 range, but let me ask you something. We’ve heard about the campaign from Rox. We’ve heard how you at The Institute of Wellbeing has contextualize it and made it relevant and accessible to different communities faith communities, BME communities, businesses and so on. What I want to ask is if someone is listening to this podcast and they’re saying this is what we want to be a part of we want to partner with the Institute of Wellbeing – how can they do that?

– Mike Kelly
Well, you can partner a number of ways and I suppose the quickest and the easiest way for you is to visit our website. There you can be guided to something that will serve you. It could be just simple bits of information or it could be participation on a course it could be we want to commission you so all joining instructions are there. But like I said if it was just a matter of I need a quick hint tip bit of support today to help me along my way with my child definitely visit the website. Also look out for us on our social media’s because there’s a lot of information being circulated through all the media’s Instagram, twitter, facebook and such the like.

– David Shosanya
Thank you very much. About Mike and I think I’ll add to that there’s a monthly newsletter that comes out so you can subscribe on the Institute of Wellbeing web site. If you download the Black History Month resource again you’ll leave your email and we can get you on board with that and just to let you know as well there’s going to be a number of subject expert days that are going to take place throughout the year and those subject expert days are when the Institute of Wellbeing bring you into contact with people who are experts in their field and we’ve got two people coming up soon who are going to make a contribution to our subject expert day later on in the year.

One of them is Dr. Albert Okoye who is a consultant paediatric psychiatrist and he’ll be looking at how you can build resilience in your child and then we also have Dr. Grace Caluori who’s a B.A.C.P accredited psychotherapist and also one of the government’s pioneers in terms of the pit program for young children and she’ll be talking about how you can use unstructured play to deal with toxic stress in your child and that’s going to be free and just need to look at the information on our website. We’ll tell you about the dates and the times and so on. So look thank you very much Mike, thank you so much Rox. Just one last piece of encouragement. There’s a parent this listen to this with a child age 0-5. I’m going to ask you Rox what single piece of advice will you give that parent.

– Rox Hussain
Okay. I would echo what Mike has said. I’d encourage parents to feel confident and empowered to adopt chat, play, read behaviours because they are critical in terms of communication language and literacy development. Chances are the parents are probably already doing a lot of this point in the campaign and working with partners like The Institute of Wellbeing is that we’re taking messages to help parents to understand the why, the how and what they need to do.

– David Shosanya
Thank you very much. More chat, play, read, why how and what you need to do. Thank you very much. Mike. what would you say.

– Mike Kelly
Don’t panic. The first thing is don’t panic. Just know that the chances are your neighbors facing the same stresses and anxieties that you are. Visit our website and then you know you can then take a pragmatic approach in raising a child if you start early the chances of success are even greater.

– David Shosanya
Well thank you very much. Roxanna Hussain part of the Early Years Social Mobility team in the Department for Education. Thank you very much. Mike Kelly founder, CEO and Chairman of The Institute of Wellbeing.

– Mike Kelly
Thank you.

– David Shosanya
If you’re listening to this, you want some more information – all the w’s. The Institute of Wellbeing Dotcom. Speak to you soon.

In this podcast you will learn:

  • Some of the drivers behind the Department for Educations (DfE) latest campaign – Hungry little Minds.
  • How the DfE selected its partners for this campaign
  • A brief history of the IOW’s longstanding relationship with the government agencies.
  • Some of the initiatives that the IOW has created to support the UK government’s Hungry Little Minds campaign.
  • The IOW and DfE’s view on the importance of parent and child interaction.
  • What the research says the biggest impact on your child’s formation is.
  • How the IOW defines what a home learning environment is.

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