Early Learning Communities Toolkit  

Strategy development | Evidence review

Save the Children 

We have worked with Save the Children UK and partners to create an evidence-informed Toolkit to support local system change activities aimed at improving children’s early learning outcomes. This is underpinned by an evidence review and extensive co-design with local partners. 


 The need

The early years are a critical period for children, yet those growing up in poverty are much less likely than their more affluent peers to benefit from experiences that support positive development. Local communities and partnerships can help create systems and conditions to support early learning, but often lack the  tools and approaches to design  evidence-informed and locally relevant system change efforts.  

Our response

We will undertake a comprehensive review of the evidence about ‘what matters’ in promoting early learning outcomes and ‘what works’ to improve these outcomes. This evidence, alongside reconnaissance and co-design with communities in Feltham, Margate, Newport and Sheffield, will inform the design of an engaging, practical Toolkit to help inform the design, implementation and ongoing refinement of local system change activities in those communities that Save the Children are working with.  


Work to date

  • Evidence review is complete  

  • In-depth engagements completed in Feltham, Margate, Newport and Sheffield  

  • Toolkit  co-designed   

  • User feedback elicited and Toolkit refined and finalised   

What next?  

  • Ongoing support to communities using Toolkit  

  • Public launch of Toolkit

Our work started in April 2018 and concluded in December 2018, with support ongoing into 2019.



Can Communities, Professionals and Research truly form evidence for systematic change?

‘Designers are everything… and nothing’: Remaking the place of Design in research


You can access the Early Learning Communities Toolkit by clicking on the link below and providing a little information.

Early Learning Communities Toolkit

You can also access the Rapid Evidence Review we conducted to inform the Toolkit development by clicking on the link below.

Improving  the early learning outcomes of children growing up in poverty: a rapid review of the evidence 

This work  is  commissioned by Save the Children UK.  The Toolkit was developed by the Lab, and the supporting Evidence Review was led by  Dr  Nick  Axford  at the University of Plymouth.  Collaborators  included Professor Kathy Sylva at the University of Oxford; Professor Jonathan Sharples from the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and Bianca Albers from the Centre for Evidence and Implementation (CEI).

 For more information, contact:   

Tim Hobbs