Society-wide mission launched to tackle profound issue of childhood literacy and communication in the early years

Families will get ideas on how to use everyday opportunities, like going to the shops and playing make-believe games, as part of a relentless society-wide effort to improve the early literacy and language skills in the years before children start school.

Today (Tuesday 2 July) the Education Secretary, Damian Hinds, will:

  • launch a new three year ‘Hungry Little Minds’ campaign to give parents access to video tips, advice and suggested games to help with early learning;
  • announce up to 1,800 new school-based nursery places, to be created in disadvantaged areas so more children can access high-quality early education, backed by a £22 million investment; and
  • set out the criteria for high quality educational apps that parents can use with their children, including promoting interactive learning and play.

While the percentage of children reaching a good level of development by the end of Reception has increased from 51.7 per cent to 71.5 per cent since 2013, more than one in four children still leaves Reception without the key communication skills they need to thrive.

Although this occurs in all income groups, these children are disproportionately from the lowest-income families. The Hungry Little Minds campaign will tackle the barriers some parents face in supporting their child’s learning at home, including time, confidence and ideas of things to do.

It builds on work by the Department for Education and the National Literacy Trust to bring together a coalition of businesses and organisations, including Arriva and the LEGO Group, who are supporting parents to play a bigger role in their child’s early education.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:

“Every parent wants to give their child the best start in life but not everyone has family support at hand and there is no manual telling us how to do everything right.

“Part of making sure our children have the opportunity to take advantage of all the joys of childhood and growing up is supporting them to develop the language and communication skills they need to express themselves. Sadly, too many children are starting school without these – and all too often, if there’s a gap at the very start of school, it tends to persist, and grow.

“The only way we are going to solve this is through a relentless focus on improving early communication. So today, we’re launching a society-wide drive with new nursery places, support from business and steps to make learning easier in the home – to improve early learning across the country.”

Visiting Dunraven School in Streatham to launch the campaign, the Education Secretary met families already benefitting from new early learning content created by the LEGO Group and EasyPeasy. He joined them for a Stay and Play session, where parents and children can take part in learning activities together, getting advice and tips throughout.

The increased efforts from businesses, charities, and early years groups, backed by government investment, builds on the work to provide expert support and targeted intervention to disadvantaged families all over the country. Other projects supported through the government’s coalition of businesses and organisations include:

  • The LEGO Group and EasyPeasy will co-create new learning games that will be hosted and shared on the EasyPeasy app. All the games can be played with things commonly found in the home, as well as with DUPLO bricks. The LEGO Group will also support EasyPeasy’s development so that families using the app can benefit from additional new ways to learn through play. The partnership will be piloted with 500 families in areas of low social mobility, with plans to further roll-out the games to 10,000 families before the end of the year.
  • Arriva in Partnership with Penguin Random House will run a series of book giveaways across its stations, as well as working with schools through visits and staff volunteering. It will also begin training frontline staff with early education tips to help engage with children using their trains all over the country.  
  • HarperCollins is working with 12 bookshops across the UK through individual grants of up to £2,000 that will support events for parents and children under five, with activities ranging from storytelling sessions with a theatre company, story sacks, and an eight-week course to boost parents’ confidence.
  • WH Smith will have its employees volunteer at ‘Small Talk’ events in Swindon, run by the National Literacy Trust. These will be hosed in venues regularly visited by families such as their local shopping centre or coffee shop. Trained staff volunteers will show parents short, simple and fun activities they can do at home with their children to help their early language development.
  • Pearson will be providing free early years vocabulary intervention kits to 500 nurseries in areas of high deprivation, developed with speech therapy experts using LEGO Education Storytales resources and designed to close the speech and language gap among children aged three and four. They are currently working with a group of nurseries in Birmingham to test the kit ahead of its wider launch later in the year. 

Founder and CEO of EasyPeasy Jen Lexmond said:

“85 per cent of a child’s brain is developed by age five, which shows just how important the early years are. We welcome that the Department for Education’s campaign is highlighting how regular everyday moments can be opportunities for learning, long before children start their first day at school. Our community of parents use EasyPeasy to discover, play, create and share learning games with their children to develop the skills they need to succeed at school and beyond.

“Our mission is to help parents give their children the best start in life, regardless of background. We’re delighted that LEGO shares these goals and wants to support us to reach more families. So far the partnership has produced new learning games, which our families have loved. We’re excited that LEGO will also explore ways of supporting our future development so that families can play and learn more with EasyPeasy.”

The government is investing more than ever before in early education and childcare, including £3.5 billion in the free offers this year alone, and 95 per cent of early years providers are rated Good or Outstanding by Ofsted.

Thousands of families have better access to high-quality childcare, with near universal take-up of the free 15 hour offer for three-and four-year-olds, rising numbers of benefitting from the 30 hours offer, and more than 850,000 of the country’s most disadvantaged two-year-olds are also benefitting from support.

In addition, the Department is funding seven early learning projects, announced in November last year, to make sure children from the most challenging backgrounds are not left behind by empowering parents to contribute to their child’s early education. This includes the first ever Scouts programme for children under six years old, getting parents involved in building children’s confidence, problem solving and communication skills through a range of physical activities.

As part of the School Nurseries Capital fund, further nursery places will open in schools across every region, as 66 projects have been given the green light to increase early years provision in areas with high numbers of families who get free school meals. The fund fulfils a manifesto commitment to support primary schools to develop nurseries where they do not currently have the facilities to do so, and new places will be created through a combination of new build projects, or by expanding existing schools already rated Good or Outstanding by Ofsted.

You may also be interested in these articles:

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page