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Oxford Early Years is a bold new initiative bringing together parents, professionals, educators, local representatives and funders to work together and take action to tackle lack of social mobility. OCF is a member of the action group known as the Lab Team.

Oxford has been identified by the 2017 Social Mobility Report as the 19th worst locality area in early years’ social mobility indicators for disadvantaged children, out of over 200 localities in the UK. This means that it is much more likely for children who are born into poverty or low income in Oxford, to remain in this situation throughout their lives. The areas of focus are Cutteslowe, Barton and Northway, Rosehill, Blackbird Leys, and Littlemore.

There is encouraging evidence that locally led policies and initiatives can tackle this issue, ensuring all children have the best possible start in life. Early years are an extremely important time in the emotional and social development of a child. We know that a good start with learning and personal support has a profound effect on the educational experience and development of a child, carrying well into their adult lives.

Convened by Oxford City Council and Oxford Hub, the Oxford Early Years initiative will run from June to September 2018, using an approach called a ‘Rapid Action Lab’. This approach focuses on convening 30-40 people who are directly connected to the challenge to work together to develop and test a variety of possible solutions that deliver better outcomes for children under 5.

Simon Barnard from OCF’s Community Impact team is a member of the Rapid Action Lab Team. He says: “I would like to learn more about which approaches have the greatest impact on improving educational attainment and social mobility. Oxfordshire Community Foundation would like to fund projects that deliver the greatest impact, and the lab should help me to inform our funding decisions. As a dad of two young boys and coach of Under 7s football, I’d also like to understand the best approaches to give children the best opportunity.”

The first lab is taking place next week, from 6th to 8th June, and finishes with a closing studio on 6th September. It is hoped that through this initial three-month process we can demonstrate that the best solutions come from enabling diverse people to work together to address this critical challenge – growing the case for further investment in this work in the future.

Find out more on the Oxford Early Years website