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 Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy