Oxford Early Years

How can we work together in addressing priority needs for children 0-5 in Oxford?


The Oxford Early Years 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.


Oxford Early Years


Disadvantaged Start

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. Some of the causes of this social mobility challenge are structural and rooted in national policy decisions. However, there is encouraging evidence that locally-led policies and initiatives can tackle this issue, ensuring all children have the best possible start in life.

The Challenge


Convened by Oxford City Council and Oxford Hub around this question, the Oxford Early Years initiative will run from June to December, 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.

Oxford City Council have put forward a £25,000 innovation fund available to support teams testing the solutions emerging from this Rapid Action Lab.

We hope that through this initial 6 month initiative 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.


Oxford Rapid Action Lab


June - December 2018

The Oxford Rapid Action Lab will bring together a team of 30-40 people from wide ranging backgrounds who are connected to the early years challenge in different ways to work together to develop and test possible community driven solutions.

What is a Rapid Action Lab?

Developed through on the ground practice around the world, a Rapid Action Lab is a strategy for enabling communities quickly to come up with and test out possible solutions to the challenges that they face. It is a process for addressing complex social situations, such as the social mobility of children under 5 in Oxford, where changes are urgent and the stakes are high for the people involved.

What Happens During a Rapid Action Lab?

Over the course of 6 months the lab team will work together to develop and test a range of possible solutions to the early years challenge. The lab is made up of two types of activities: 

  • Team Kick-Off workshop & Studios - During this time the team work to understand the challenge from multiple perspectives and develop potential solutions.

  • Action Cycles - During this time smaller sub-teams actively test possible solutions out in the field by over a 4 week period.

Overview of the lab schedule.

Get involved! 

Does your life or work involve or influence children aged 0-5?
If so, we are delighted to extend you a warm invitation to consider joining us to work in the Oxford Early Years Rapid Action Lab.

Here are two ways you can get involved:


6 Reasons to Join the Team



Move from talking to ACTION

The Rapid Action Lab is not a ‘talking shop’. No one person, organization or institution can address the challenges we face alone. As part of the Lab Team, you will take collaborative action with people from across Oxford’s Early Years sector focusing on ”How we can work together to address priority needs for children aged 0-5?”.


Space and resources to INNOVATE

You probably have ideas that could make a difference to children and their families, but it can be risky to test these on your own without additional resources. The Lab Team will have access to a £25,000 Innovation Fund to test ideas for addressing the Early Years challenge. In service to the challenge, The Lab Team will have complete freedom to decide how the Innovation Fund is spent, this could include paying for additional services and staff time in support of the challenge.



You will have the chance to develop productive working relationships with a diverse group of people from across Early Years sector. These relationships can provide fertile ground for a wide range of collaborations in your work far beyond the Rapid Action Lab.

Shape plans for Future FUNDING

The Rapid Action Lab will shape the content of a Big Lottery funding bid. The bid will seek to bring in further resource and continued support to the Early Years sector following on from the Rapid Action Lab.


Develop your UNDERSTANDING of the Early Years ecosystem

The Rapid Action Lab will offer the Lab Team the chance to learn more about the different aspects of the  Early Years system in Oxford, learn from the work of their peers and try out the social labs approach to collaboratively work to address complex challenges.

INFLUENCE future work

Through participating in the Rapid Action Lab you will have the opportunity to influence how local  councils and different agencies approach working in the Early Years space in the future.


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