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Edge Hill and National Children’s Bureau offer training boost for education students

March 13, 2023

Edge Hill and the National Children’s Bureau (NCB) are working together to provide an exciting literacy training programme to students studying Early Years Education for the first time in the UK.

Making it REAL (Raising Early Achievement in Literacy) is a renowned evidence-based programme that gives educators the ability to support parents and guardians using a specific framework to help their children with early reading and writing at home.

The project has been developed further and will now be offered to Edge Hill’s Early Years Education students thanks to the University’s new partnership with the Early Childhood Unit at the NCB.

A picture of students being shown a children's book.

Lecturer in Early Years Education Laura Gregory said: “Making it REAL is usually offered to practitioners already in post. Thanks to our partnership with the NCB our students will be given the skills to support parents recognise opportunities to enhance early literacy with their children at home.

“This has never been done before in any university in the UK and will massively enhance our student’s employability and boost their confidence and competence in supporting early literacy in a huge range of environments.”

Gill Holden, Early Childhood Programme Lead at NCB, said: “We’re very excited to be partnering with Laura and her team and embedding the principles of Making it REAL into the programme of learning for Early Years Education students for the first time.

“Engaging parents in their children’s early literacy development has been shown to improve children’s outcomes and help to narrow the gap between disadvantaged and other children and the Making it REAL Programme provides a framework to do that.

”We’ve helped put it into practice within a number of local authorities, resulting in positive outcomes for children and we’re delighted to be able to support Edge Hill to introduce it to their students.”

BA (Hons) Primary Early Years Education with QTS student Rebecca Lindsay said: “The ‘Making it REAL’ training completely inspired me, their ethos of promoting the quality of parent-child interactions within the home learning environment gave me lots of food for thought.

“I feel very passionate about passing this knowledge on to other families to help not only support them with their children’s literacy development, but also, to help them slow down and see the beauty of spending that time together as a family.”

A picture of students sat around a table doing work.

Making it REAL forms part of the government’s wider social mobility plan based on studies of pre-school education that found that the home learning environment made a significant difference in children’s learning.

This pilot year will train up to 60 students and three members of staff will be able to “Train the Trainer” meaning they can deliver the programme to future students here at Edge Hill University.

Laura added: “In the long term three of our early years lecturers will be trained on how to deliver the course, cementing our partnership with the NCB and making us the only University able to offer this training as part of our degree programmes.

“It will give a huge boost to our teaching and materials around early reading and literacy, learning beyond the classroom, working with families, and supporting the home learning environment.”

BA (Hons) Primary Early Years Education with QTS student Melissa Burrows said: “I have really enjoyed the training and looking forward to putting it to use. It has really emphasised the importance of reading and how to involve parents and get them involved to benefit their children.”

REAL was developed in the 1990s by the NCB and the University of Sheffield, building on a study by Professor Cathy Nutbrown. It began as a project aimed at boosting literacy in the home learning environment and has been developed into an effective framework to support parents.

Since it began the project has been assessed and the results have shown it has a range of benefits and that home learning makes a significant difference in learning. 

There is more information about the programme and the training via these links: Making it REAL training ( and Making it REAL (

March 13, 2023


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