The Foundation Years Trust

The Foundation Years Trust was established to action the findings of The Rt. Hon. Frank Field MP’s Independent Review on Poverty and Life Chances, The Foundation Years: preventing poor children becoming poor adults.

The report focused on the crucial years from birth to the first days of school, which are acknowledged to be the formative years physiologically, cognitively, socially and emotionally.  This is also the period when substantial gaps in school readiness are embedded. If schools are to promote equality of educational achievement, action needs to be taken in the pre-school years. The report highlighted the powerful drivers of the home learning environment, parental warmth and sensitivity and parental well-being as three of the key influences on a child’s outcomes which can be strengthened through well designed interventions.

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The Foundation Years Trust is piloting a strategy which will enhance these three drivers and in doing so, help equalise life chances for all children before they start school.

Parents and carers are at the heart of the Trust’s programme. The Trust’s strategy is to support parents to lead their children’s development in the early years and to promote the valuable role of parents as their children’s first educators.

To do this the Trust is pursuing a three pronged strategy:


The Trust’s core work focuses on testing how early years interventions can best be delivered to the families that need the most support and on using the evidence to influence early years policy. The package of programmes supports families from pregnancy to when a child enters school.  It prioritises those factors which impact on early learning and development, and which affect poorer families disproportionately.  The intervention aims to enhance the confidence and skills of parents, the capacity to nurture their children and their ability to work with schools so that all children start school ready to achieve their full potential. More


Currently, education for parenthood is offered to parents from the time of pregnancy to when their children are teenagers.  However, we all learn about parenting from our own experiences as children.  The Trust recognises that it is important to encourage young people to think about the responsibilities and challenges of parenting before they become parents themselves – and while they are ‘experts by experience’.  The Foundation Years Trust is seeking to extend and develop the support available for parenting, starting with education for young people. More


The Trust works to develop, implement and promote ‘life chance indicators’, which measure a child’s development against the factors which are predictive of future outcomes.  The ultimate aim is to chart the development of individual children at three stages up to when they start school at 4-5 years, in a Reception or Foundation Stage 2 class. These indicators will play a key role in driving policy and incentivising a focus on improving children’s life chances in the long term.

In the longer term the Trust is working to achieve the adoption of this three pronged strategy across the UK. More