Oxford Early Years

Oxford Early Years


 "How can we work together to address priority needs for children aged 0-5 in Oxford?"


This page is dedicated to the evaluation of the Oxford Early Years Rapid Action Lab - Cycle 1 that took place from June-December 2018.

Below you will find the Foreword by Sara Fernandez, full report, and Conclusion



By Sara Fernandez, Oxford Hub


The Early Years Rapid Action Lab is a bold new initiative bringing together parents, professionals, educators, local representatives and funders to work together and take action to address priority needs for children under 5 in Oxford. The Lab was designed to increase the quality and quantity of universal provision for children under 5 and their families in Oxford City. Participants in the Lab focused on supporting Oxford’s regeneration areas, where social mobility is less prevalent, and strengthening the network of Early Years professionals and venues across the city.

This work was a direct response to the changing landscape of Early Years provision and the Social Mobility State of the Nation Report identifying Oxford City as a particular ‘cold spot’ of social mobility, ranking 19th from the bottom amongst over 200 local authorities. Some of the causes of this social mobility challenge are structural and rooted in national policy decisions. However, there is encouraging evidence that policies and initiatives by local authorities can influence these deprivation outcomes, and effectively tackle place-based inequality.

During the course of the first cycle of the Oxford Early Years Rapid Action Lab, participants worked together to develop a shared understanding of the challenges facing children in Oxford. We built this understanding by dialoguing with each other, learning from community leaders and visiting organisations in the community. Together, we came up with a number of ideas for how to address priority needs for Oxford’s children. Over the course of the six months, we tested five ideas, through an approach known as “prototyping.” This involved small teams designing and launching an initial version of their idea to determine its impact in supporting children under 5 and their families. This work was supported by an Innovation Fund of £25,000 provided by Oxford City Council, which enabled participants to test their ideas.

This evaluation reviews the work of the first cycle of the Early Years Rapid Action Lab, delivered through a partnership between Oxford City Council, Oxford Hub, Roller strategies, Oxfordshire County Council, Early Years professionals, and parents, which took place between June and December 2018.



Click on the image to view the full report

Click on the image to view the full report




This experiment shows how collaboration can be an effective response to our Early Years challenges. By taking action together, drastic improvements can happen and increase both quality and reliability within the system. This work could never have been done without the contribution from each participant, champion and sponsor. A great thank you and appreciation towards your dedication and compassion. Your many shared perspectives shape the future of our children and unlocks greater potential for the Early Years system in Oxford.


Thank you

  • Alive Weaver, Mother

  • Anna Thorne, OXPIP

  • Annie Davy, The Nature Effect

  • Ben Hamilton, Emmanuel Church

  • Beth Knighton, Donnington Doorstep

  • Carol Lister, Slade Nursery School

  • Cheryl Huntbach, Oxfordshire County Council

  • Clare Crossley, Oxfordshire County Council

  • Cllr Marie Tidball, Oxford City Council

  • Daisy Brown, Oxford Brookes University, Early Childhood studies graduate

  • Dave Tullett, Moving Edge (Coaching and Leadership)

  • Doireann Lalor, The Children’s Allotment

  • Ellie Clarke-Jacques, Oxford Hub

  • Emily Grant, Oxford Brookes

  • Farhan Samanani, Oxford University

  • Fiona Brimson, Grandpont Nursery School and Childcare

  • Fiona Henderson, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust

  • Ginnie Herbert, Formerly of Rose hill Children’s Centre, now parents support volunteer

  • Ian Brooke, Oxford City Council

  • Karen Porter, Home Start

  • Kathy Peto, Family Links

  • Laura White

  • Leo Eisenstadt, Roller Strategies

  • Lindsey Heart, Peeple

  • Lisa Fern, Grandpont Nursery School and Childcare

  • Lisa Mansour, Baby Cafe

  • Lucy Butler, Oxfordshire County Council

  • Lydia Hodgins, Oxford Hub

  • Maria Godfrey, Oxfordshire County Council

  • Mary Taylor, Family Links

  • Maysa Mustafa, Oxford Policy Management

  • Naomi Eisenstadt, one of the architects of Sure Start

  • Nicola Taylor, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust

  • Nuha Abdo, Mother

  • Oxford City Council

  • Oxfordshire County Council

  • Rebecca Matthews, Oxford Brookes University

  • Sally Smith, Peeple

  • Sara Fernandez, Oxford Hub

  • Shaz Ajmal, Mother

  • Shiploha Bhatt, Formally Children Centre Manager, consultant and equality advocate

  • Simon Barnard, Oxford Community Foundation

  • Siobhan Salter, Oxford Brookes University

  • Suffia Hussain, Mother

  • Tina Gordon, Mother

  • Valerie Knight, Oxfordshire County Council

  • Zaid Hassan, Roller Strategies

And baby Saoirse, for keeping it real