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Sandwell foster carers update:
training for foster carers 2020–21

About the training

Saeeda Butt, Parents as Partners in Early Learning Manager for Sandwell Quality Early Years and Childcare Services and Sharon Osmond, Early Years Foundation Lead for the LACE have continued to increase joined up working by the following steps:

  • Sharing data on where children in care (LAC) are receiving early years provision.

  • Working with Sandwell Data Intelligence on the good level of development (GLD) for children in care in and outside the borough.

  • Introducing chat, play, read home visits to targeted group of reception aged children in care, in need of additional support and their foster carers.

  • Increasing the profile of training with the Sandwell Children’s Trust.

  • The training materials have been updated in line with Sandwell’s Communication and Language Pathway.

  • Programmes identified support school readiness.

  • Partnership working with the Sandwell Library Service where National Bookstart allocation of resource packs for LACE so all eligible children in care receive a Bookstart pack.

The essential theme flowing through all the training identified to be delivered is to influence the home learning environment for our children in care which meant that we must build on our foster carers’ experiences, knowledge, skills and practice.

In addition to our children in care achieving their GLD, we wanted the children to be at their expected level of development for communication and language.

Programme 1: Seeing the REAL world through the eyes of a child

What is it about?

A two-day interactive (10.00am to 2.30pm), fun and exciting programme for foster carers who care for children aged 2–8. It helps foster carers see the world of play through the eyes of their child in everyday opportunities focusing on:

  • Oral language – things to talk and sing about.

  • Environmental print – signs, logos and things we notice when out and about.

  • Writing for a purpose – making marks indoors and outdoors using large and small body movements.

  • Books and things to read – story language and book talk.

  • Everyone who attends this course receives a free pack of resources to use in the home – indoors and outdoors, with their children, home visits and telephone support if requested.

Evaluation comments

“I found this course to be energising, exciting, very informative regarding ways in which we use literacy as a whole throughout everyday – with our children.”

“I am aware of how important playing is in the development of a child and how it leads to a good grasp of reading and writing. I shall carry on playing with all children and don’t care how daft I look!”

“The way the course was taught made all the difference. It was fun and lively. I was valued for being here. Made me want to learn more and put into practice what I learnt.”


At the start of the programme, 50% of foster carers said they felt confident in supporting their child in early literacy.

At the end of the programme, 94% of foster carers (an increase of 44%) said they now felt more confident in supporting their child in early literacy.

Foster carers post evaluation and video clips demonstrate that they were still using the learning through everyday home learning experiences.

Impact on children

LAC on the red and amber personal education plan (PEP) identified for home visits, not on track for achieving a good level of development (GLD).

Embedded REAL training and used in home learning environment with foster carers and LAC.

All children progressed from their starting points and 4 out of 6 achieved a good level of development (GLD) giving them a firm foundation to succeed academically.

Case study of foster carer colleague who received the training 2019–20

‘B’ started reception class in September 2019 and found the transition from nursery to reception quite challenging. His listening skills, ability to following instructions, concentration and staying focused were cause for concern.

PEP meeting, October 2019. B was academically 30–50 months developing in all areas. His teacher commented that he needed 1–1 support in fine motor skills, listening skills and following instructions.

PEP meeting, May 2020. B is working academically at 40–60 months developing with aspects of secure learning in many areas. His teacher said that B was making accelerated progress across the curriculum. He is more focused on his learning now and can concentrate for extended periods.

The family have had additional home visits to support understanding of how children learn and play based learning. B’s carer has attended ‘Seeing the REAL world through the eyes of a child’ training which has given her more confidence in her ability to support the children’s learning. She has also attended additional training courses.

Programme 2: Chatter Matters ICAN exploring communication

One-day workshop that can be delivered 10.00am to 2.00pm.

This programme is a gentle way of supporting our foster carers especially with 0–2 year olds.

What is it about?

The learning objectives are:

  • To understand the importance of communication development for all children.

  • To identify key factors in the development of communication.

  • To identify a parent’s/carer’s role in supporting their children’s communication development.

  • To understand how parents/carers can support their children’s communication development.

  • To know where to find information and support a variety of aspects of children’s communication development.

Programme 3: Tots Talking new pilot project with ICAN

Four weeks of two-hour workshops (very practical hands on activities).

What is it about?

A programme developed by parents to improve the language of two year olds at risk of delayed language.

It does this by encouraging parents/carers to use contingent language and behaviours to support children’s language and communication skills.

The sessions are supported by the Tots Talking app which parents can use on their phone.

The app gives information to help parents learn and encourage them to practice what they have learned with their child at home.

Contact information

Saeeda Butt – PPEL Manager
Work mobile: +44 7769 283 285
Email: saeeda_butt@sandwell.gov.uk

Sharon Osmond – LACE Team
Work mobile: +44 7880 295 021
Email: sharon_osmond@sandwell.gov.uk