Ready Steady Stoke: A second year evaluation

Aida Cable

By Aida Cable

Stoke Thrive at Five is helping children in their early years in Abbey Hulton and Bentilee in Stoke-on-Trent - to develop strong foundations for life and learning. Ready, Steady, Stoke (RSS) is an initiative to improve the transition of children into nursery or primary school, developed with local schools and parents after they identified that many children were struggling to adjust to the school environment.

In the second year of the project , which ran from July to August 2023, the seven schools in the area took on greater responsibility for planning and delivering the activities to engage parents of the 473 children due to join nursery or reception in September.  

The results of this and improvements to the goal setting and refinement of the activities, helped ensure the project had a significant positive impact on the transition to school in the area.  

All 7 schools participated and the majority of children and parents took part, with term-time activities best attended.  

In year 2 schools took ownership of shaping and delivering the detail of the project, with the support of Thrive at Five, and the majority of schools ran all 3 of the proposed elements of the project – an opening Transitions Event, Summer Term Stay and Plays, and summer holiday sessions. Average attendance of eligible children attending at least one summer term stay and play was 79%, with three schools reporting more than 90% attendance, and the lowest recording 54% of invited children joining at least one session. Attendance of summer holiday sessions averaged 25%.  

Teachers reported that children who attended Ready, Steady, Stoke, sessions made a positive transition at the start of the school year, and the effect was stronger for children that attended sessions regularly.

Interviews with teachers found that the project  helped establish relationships between school staff and parents and carers, increased parental confidence in leaving their children and that seeing their parents engaging with teachers and school staff increased the confidence and comfort of children in attending school. School staff were also able to better understand and prepare for the specific needs of children and families before they joined the school.

Parents feel that Ready, Steady, Stoke is positively helping with the transition to school.  

Of the parents that completed a survey and attended at least one session, more than 9 out of 10 felt confident about their child starting school (92%), that they knew how to help their child with their learning (91%), that their child settled in well to school (92%), that as parents they had a lot of support (92%) and that their child was ready for school (100%). A slightly lower number felt like they knew the teachers (73%) or other parents (63%).  

Parents and schools have contributed to recommended improvements for 2024. 

The evaluation has identified 7 improvements to be implemented in Ready, Steady, Stoke 2024 including removing barriers to sustain the engagement of children, parents and carers across a number of activities and over the summer holidays, as well as focusing on engaging more families who will benefit the most.  

“I’ve enjoyed working with Thrive at Five. It’s been great to have resources on hand and ready-made packs to give out. I think the children have had lots that’s been given to them before the summer, or over the summer. We’ve had engaging sessions, and it has all been free of charge for the families so to be able to offer that is great.”

Read the report here

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