Developing the future workforce

Volunteer Co-ordinator, Emma Goff, explains one of the new ways that Better Start Bradford has developed to educate the future workforce.

Emma Goff

While much of our work focuses on families and the local maternity and early years workforce in the here and now, we’re also keen to develop and influence the future workforce via local nursing and midwifery students, particularly around the importance of prevention and early intervention.

Over the past few months we’ve developed and improved our educational offer for local students. The aim of this is to help them better-understand our programme and for them to benefit from the wealth of expertise our project teams and other partners have to offer. We were also keen to shine a spotlight on one of our key programme aims: prevention within early years, and the importance of the first 1001 days, encouraging the workforce in general to embed this into all areas of their practice.

Edwina Lintin

In October 2021, we trialled a series of virtual live learning sessions, giving students the opportunity to learn and benefit from our partners’ extensive knowledge and expertise. Topics covered ranged from: infant mental health delivered by our Little Minds Matter project, the impact of adverse childhood experiences delivered by Edwina Lintin, MECSH (Maternal Early Childhood Sustained Home Visiting programme) Implementation Champion at Better Start Bradford (pictured above), to What is community engagement? delivered by our Family and Community Engagement team.

Two different 90-minute sessions were delivered every Friday for 10 weeks via Microsoft Teams – one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Attendees could book onto the sessions most relevant or of most interest to them, but the overall aim was to embed the message that we are all an essential part of the system for babies, children and young people, and that all services and disciplines play an essential part in improving outcomes for these groups.

We worked in close partnership with the Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust to publicise the sessions to all appropriate students and are extremely grateful for the support we received from them, our projects and other partners across the district.

To maximise the use of these sessions we offered them to the wider workforce, and in particular colleagues who are supporting students’ placement in the community, especially the recent increase in nursing students, and in addition, we also offered them to new members of the workforce and soon gained bookings from early years facilitators, public health practitioners and community nursery nurses from across the district.

We had 23 attendees students and workforce during the trial and received positive feedback from students, facilitators, and placement supervisors, including this from one first year student nurse:

“I am currently on placement with the Bradford South 0-19 Health Visiting Team. I attended the Better Start Bradford training earlier this week. I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed it – it was really engaging, interesting and informative. I’ve also just finished listening to the Better Start Bradford podcast episodes and wanted to say they are great – I really enjoyed them and will definitely be recommending them to others!”

Naturally we had some minor teething problems to overcome, such as getting used to delivering virtual learning where there is a different host each week. While it brings many benefits, one drawback of virtual delivery is that it can be harder to encourage people to interact and participate in discussion or Q&As, with many attendees preferring to keep their camera off.

We’re now onto phase two and are currently running our second Virtual Live Learning Programme, taking all the learning from last time to continually improve the offer. We received feedback via email, telephone calls and a questionnaire. As a result, we now send a pre-session email out to attendees about keeping cameras on, send an email to facilitators with a list of attendees and where they come from so they can tailor their sessions accordingly and we now have some new topics, hypnobirthing and a Born in Bradford session. The next round of sessions start on 10 June 2022.

We’d like to say a huge thank you to all the partners involved in supporting this programme, particularly our own project teams and other partners who facilitated sessions and really got on board with our aim to provide a supportive learning environment to enhance the knowledge and skills of our future workforce.

About A Better Start

A Better Start is the ten-year (2015-2025), £215 million programme set-up by The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK.

Five A Better Start partnerships based in Blackpool, Bradford, Lambeth, Nottingham, and Southend are supporting families to give their babies and very young children the best possible start in life. Working with local parents, the A Better Start partnerships are developing and testing ways to improve their children’s diet and nutrition, social and emotional development, and speech, language, and communication.

The work of the programme is grounded in scientific evidence and research. A Better Start is place-based and enabling systems change. It aims to improve the way that organisations work together and with families to shift attitudes and spending towards preventing problems that can start in early life. A Better Start is one of five major programmes set up by The National Lottery Community Fund to test and learn from new approaches to designing services which aim to make people’s lives healthier and happier.

The National Children’s Bureau is designing and delivering an ambitious programme of shared learning and development support for A Better Start, working within, across and beyond the five partnership areas. The programme is funded by The National Lottery Community Fund using funds raised by National Lottery players.

Our aim is to amplify the impact of A Better Start by:

  • Embedding a culture of learning within and between the partnerships.
  • Harnessing the best available evidence about what works in improving outcomes for children.
  • Sharing the partnerships’ experiences in creating innovative services far and wide, so that others working in early childhood development or place-based systems change can benefit.

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