Briefing paper

National Evaluation of A Better Start

Findings for practitioners from the first annual report for the national evaluation of A Better Start
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  • Publishing date:
    18 January 2024


This briefing report summarises the findings from the first annual report from the national evaluation of A Better Start that are particularly relevant to early years practitioners.

A Better Start

A Better Start is a 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. 

ABS is a place-based programme and aims to enable systems to change, for the better, the way that local health, public services and the voluntary and community sector work together with parents and communities to improve outcomes for children. 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.

The A Better Start National Evaluation

The national evaluation of A Better Start aims to answer four key questions. These are:

  • What contribution has A Better Start made to the life chances of children?
  • How have the services in A Better Start sites contributed to improving children’s diet and nutrition, social and emotional skills and language and communication skills?
  • How have families from different backgrounds experienced A Better Start?
  • How has A Better Start reduced public costs that relate to primary school-aged children?

To address these four objectives, the evaluation includes a range of research activities, to build a mosaic of evidence to help tell the story of the impact of ABS.

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