A new and innovative training programme that’s already making a difference to the emotional health and wellbeing of Liverpool’s youngest children has won a prestigious national award.
SIL’s Early Years Emotional Health and Wellbeing Award, developed in partnership with Liverpool City Council’s Public Health team, has scooped a top prize at the Nursery World Awards – an annual event which celebrates best practice across the early years sector.
The programme was recognised by a panel of industry specialists for both innovation and impact – with judges recognising that its sustainable approach to nurturing the wellbeing of children was only possible by providing comprehensive support and advice to those who directly support and influence their development – namely practitioners and their families.
Following the pandemic, Liverpool City Council’s Public Health team prioritised the recovery of emotional health and wellbeing and through this commitment, commissioned the Early Years team at SIL to develop a programme of support that would improve outcomes for the city’s youngest children and their families.
SIL’s Early Years Emotional Health and Wellbeing Award was developed alongside health and education partners to enable early years practitioners to gain holistic knowledge and equip them to support the children, families, and staff they work with.
Practical methods to support and promote positive emotional wellbeing Understanding the influence families and practitioners have on children’s emotional wellbeing and how to promote the importance of supportive practice Creating and implementing emotional wellbeing action plans for children, families and staff to improve outcomes for all three key groups How to best engage and work with families to make a positive impact in their lives.
Having the knowledge of how and when it’s appropriate to signpost individuals to national and local support services and to other professionals within the sector Early Years practitioners completing the programme are known as ‘Emotional Health and Wellbeing Champions’ – having developed the skills to action plan for their children, families and staff.
In the last 12 months, over 60 Early Years practitioners have undertaken the training programme – covering almost half of Liverpool’s nurseries and early years settings.
The award enables “Champions” to be confident in:
- Practical methods to support and promote positive emotional wellbeing
- Understanding the influence families and practitioners have on children’s emotional wellbeing and how to promote the importance of supportive practice
- Creating and implementing emotional wellbeing action plans for children, families and staff to improve outcomes for all three key groups
- How to best engage and work with families to make a positive impact in their lives
- Having the knowledge of how and when it’s appropriate to signpost individuals to national and local support services and to other professionals within the sector
Advanced Public Health Practitioner for Mental Health, Jayne Cook said, “One of the most troubling legacies of the pandemic is the impact it had on the youngest members of our communities.
“There is clear evidence that babies born into the pandemic were massively limited in their opportunities to experience the play, exploration and socialisation that are so crucial to their early development.
“This happened in parallel with families encountering unprecedented levels of stress resulting from complex challenges like job insecurity, reduced income, social isolation, bereavement and increased caring responsibilities – and there is now a whole generation of families with children under 5 still dealing with the impact this has had.
“We knew something had to be done to help, and Public Health Liverpool are phenomenally proud of how SIL worked with us and brought our initial vision to life by designing and delivering an innovative approach to early years emotional health and wellbeing unlike anything that has come before.
“The recognition that this programme has received through national accreditation and awards demonstrates the significance of this development for Liverpool and potentially further afield.
“The statements and testimonies of the staff and families that took part and benefitted from this approach speak for themselves. Young children and Liverpool are getting a better start in life as a direct result of this programme and it’s amazing to see the impact it has had.”
The programme was enhanced through the inclusion of guest speakers, research and resources from a range of local and national organisations – and this vital element strengthened partnerships, alongside ensuring a shared vision for health, education and economic improvement was developed.
It also includes local and national targets and aspirations to improve the emotional health and wellbeing of children and their families.
SIL Early Years Quality Improvement Officer, and programme lead, Sally Baumber said, “Evaluations show that 100% of participants feel their knowledge of supporting emotional health and wellbeing has improved significantly.
“All participants are now aware of the signs and symptoms of emotional health and wellbeing difficulties and risk factors – and most importantly the methods to promote and support emotional health and wellbeing.
“Through the development of skills, insight, knowledge, and expertise, our Emotional Health and Wellbeing Champions have experienced increased confidence in supporting children, families and staff which has had a positive impact on their role and within their setting.”
Supporting the emotional needs of children and staff has also been recognised at inspection level – with one hundred percent of Liverpool settings inspected since completing the programme going on to achieve a good or outstanding Ofsted grade.
SIL Senior School Improvement Officer for EYFS Learning Strategies, Lisa Dorrity said, “The high-quality training and quality assurance from SIL’s team has ensured everyone completing the programme is competent, committed, capable and confident in their role.
“This is resulting in improved outcomes for the children in their care, as well as improving staff retention in settings across the city.
“Having completed the programme, settings are receiving external validation of the improvements they have made to their provision and practice as a result of their newfound skills and knowledge – which can be evidenced at recent Ofsted inspections.
“The programme revisits and builds on the four principles; a unique child, positive relationships, enabling environments and learning and development as a structure through which the training is delivered – and these principles are applied, not only to the child, but also to their families and staff at their setting.”
As part of the training programme, SIL assisted in the development of NCFE CACHE’s Level 4 Award in Early Years Emotional Wellbeing – a brand new qualification, which ‘Emotional Health and Wellbeing Champions’ can work towards achieving.