B H T Early Education & Training

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by B H T Early Education & Training's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from B H T Early Education & Training is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles


CEO Sonia Smith
Learning to navigate life at
our Holme Wood Nursery
Sonia Smith started at BHT during a turbulent time of
transition. There was a lot to do, but with a team of
passionate people, who know and believe the service is
here for the children, it has been able to improve year on year.
BHT grew out of a Sure Start local programme that covered
three communities in Bradford: Bierley, Holme Wood and
Tyersal. In 2005, it developed into a cluster of three children’s
centres, supporting children from birth to five years old
and their families, each having its own day care. Sonia, the
We have experienced rapid growth since 2004, having received plenty of financial
support to develop services to support the diverse needs of families living in some
of the most deprived areas in England. High numbers of children in the local
area have speech, language and communication needs, along with low levels of
literacy. We have addressed this through the development of a language support
programme, “Talking Together”, where language development workers support
parents. Focusing on the home learning environment, adult–child interaction
and the child’s language development, some language staff were placed in our
nurseries to address the needs of local children.
During this time, ringfenced Sure Start funding was no longer available, and the
local authority received cuts to their budgets year on year, which was having
a huge impact on services. This led to the local authority’s major overhaul of
children’s centres to develop cluster models across the district. This effort to save
money resulted in the children’s centres being taken in-house.
»CEO: Sonia Smith
»Founded in 2004
»Based in Bradford, West
»Services: Childcare and
education nurseries,
afterschool and holiday clubs,
language and communication
and programmes for children
0 to 8 years
»No. of employees: 72
»Ofsted: “Good”, four times
BHT Early Education
& Training
Highlighting best practice
In 2015, Bradford was successful in
bidding for a Lottery-funded programme,
A Better Start, and was awarded £50
million over a ten-year period. As an
innovative programme developed locally
out of local need, we were funded to
run Talking Together across the Better
Start Bradford area. As part of this roll
out, we work very closely with BSB’s
Innovation Hub, which is made up of
researchers from local universities.
Going forward
Although we had a good ethos and
committed staff, we had to move
forward. We had the nurseries and
language development work to focus
on, as well as local children’s needs
to meet. We had to adhere to Ofsted
requirements, the Childcare Act 2006
and the early years foundation stage
statutory framework, which focuses
on children’s individual needs, ages
and stages of development, with
continuous planning and assessment,
and contractual funding requirements
to meet.
Addressing management issues across
the organisation, which covers four
sites, was important and we needed to
restructure the organisation following
the TUPE transfer for some staff
with the loss of children’s centres.
Staff, managers, family support and
targeted services had provided the
core of offerings, as well as ensuring
sustainability. This meant, however,
that we were free from the constraints
of children’s centre monitoring, and
the restrictions imposed by funding
In order to create a successful future, a
good business plan and an assessment
of risk were required. We had four
nursery settings, but these were not
without their difficulties, one of the
issues being sustainability. Offering
full-day care to parents in areas with
high numbers of economically inactive
families brings its own disadvantages,
and one nursery in particular had a
number of issues.
Our trustees supported the senior
leadership team through some difficult
times and tough decisions had to be
made. The senior leadership team were
outstanding and continued to treat
the children’s needs as paramount.
The business manager negotiated new
contracts or re-negotiated old contracts
for more cost-effective prices. The
nursery managers and I tackled issues
in the nursery and raised the bar for
quality, with all the nurseries receiving
“good” Ofsted judgments. This meant
we were now in a position to take on
pilot schemes and the 30 hours grant
funding to support local families.
The language development manager
ensured the recommissioning of the
Talking Together programme with BSB.
As a result of the withdrawal of
children’s centre funding, we could no
longer afford to support the children
attending nursery with a language
development worker and I was
thinking how else we could support
their development. Knowing that
music supports all areas of children’s
development, I received an email with
a funding opportunity from Youth
Music. I worked hard with the nursery
manager and deputy and received an
incredible amount of support from the
local authority music hub.
Concentrating hard on
communication and
We are
working hard
to establish
BHT as a
and have
licensed all our
We were successful and able to
implement a music programme,
“Music, Movers and Shakers”. This
has gone from strength to strength
and is having an impact on children’s
overall development. Thanks to two
outstanding music leads, we have
continued to develop the programme
into nursery and classroom sessions
and into professional development
training for teachers and practitioners,
and we have sold the programme to
local schools. This has supported the
children’s development, provided more
financial security, and enabled the
charity to continue its aims. The music
programme is able to support the
professional development of staff to
run the programmes further afield.
Talking Together
As part of the collaborative work with
the Innovation Hub, we have been
successful in securing funding from
the Nuffield Foundation to carry out
a feasibility trial to establish whether
Talking Together is ready for a full-scale
academic evaluation. Talking Together
has shown good results for children.
Locally, it is the only programme of
its kind to support children in their
early years with speech, language
and communication delay. Alongside
Talking Together, we have developed
a language support programme,
“Fundamental Foundations”, which
works with children with language
delay up to the age of eight years.
Fundamental Foundations has been
commissioned by a number of schools
and it has shown a positive impact on
their results and Ofsted inspections.
We are working hard to establish BHT
as a training organisation and have
recently licensed all our programmes.
We are regional professional language
development trainers for I CAN and
Makaton, and we run professional
development courses for our own
programmes. The sale of these
allows us to widen the scope of our
support for the development of young
children, and we can use the income
to continue to support children from
economically deprived local areas.
BHT have since won a number of
funding projects including hosting Dolly
Parton’s Imagination Library, and the roll
out of I CAN for Better Start Bradford.
We are continuing to go from strength
to strength, with a focus on continuing
staff development, on the nurseries and
out-of-school provision, and on our
own language and music programmes.
One parent remarked: “My two-year-
old son has been attending nursery
for around five weeks now. As it is the
first time we have used childcare, we
were very nervous and anxious, but
we took to the nursery straight away
as the staff were so welcoming. The
staff have been nothing but helpful
and understanding, assisting us with
every question, phone call or query
in general. My son has built amazing
relationships with the staff. It is amazing
to see him have a strong relationship
in particular with the room leader and
talks about her at home which gives
us so much confidence. I would like to
take the time to say thank you to all the
staff at nursery because no matter how
busy they are, they are always happy
to assist. Keep up the amazing work.”
I have seen a
today, giving
young people
great happiness;
and their parents.
Continue the
great work, and
as the Lord Mayor
of Bradford it
makes me really
– Abid Hussain, Lord
Mayor of Bradford 2018
discussing the first ever
Early Years Prom
First ever early years
music prom, held at
Bradford City Hall


This article was sponsored by B H T Early Education & Training. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister