A Universal Approach


A universal approach to improving life chances for Under 5s 

The importance of under-5s engagement 

A child’s experience during the early years (0-5 years) is critical to their physical, cognitive and social development. This development all contributes to a child being ‘school ready’. This is recognised in the Wellbeing Strategy for Calderdale 2018 - 2024 and in the Council’s Vision 2024, as a key theme under Enterprising and Talented. 

There is increasing recognition and evidence that speech, language and communication are vital for supporting children to be school ready, and thus sets the foundation for educational / academic achievement. Early language impacts on many areas of child development. It contributes to a child’s ability to manage emotions and communicate feelings, to establish and maintain relationships and develop key childhood competencies in understanding objects, numbers, people and language. 

There are approximately 12,142 under 5s living in Calderdale (Child Health, January, 2020). Within that cohort, parents have the biggest influence on their child’s early learning.  

Calderdale Council took a population based, universal approach to supporting children to be school ready with the introduction of the ’50 things to do before you’re five’ project. 

Launching 50 Things: A Whole-Community Approach 

The Calderdale ‘50 to do before you’re five’ app, website and resources were launched on the 7th August 2019 to coincide with National Play Day. The event was held at the Eureka! Children’s Museum in Halifax and was attended by around 70 people representing early years’ settings, schools, Children’s Centres, council directorates, local organisations and families.  

The launch event happened after the project was pitched to various groups including the Council’s Executive Leadership Team, the Children and Young People’s Directorate Management Team and the Calderdale Leaders Meeting to the hospital trust, the Leader of the Council and representatives from the fire service, the police and local third sector organisations. 

From the start, multi-agency involvement and support was seen as vital to the project’s success,.   A local stakeholder group was formed with representatives from Private, Voluntary and Independent (PVI) Early Years settings, Health Visiting, Libraries, Museums, Children’s Centres and Children and Young People’s Services.  Reflecting this multi-agency involvement, the ‘Local Links’ information in the app includes public health key messages including, but not limited to, healthy eating, oral health, physical activity, sun safety and emotional wellbeing. 

Coordinating promotion for maximum impact 

To aid promotion of the 50 Things project, A2 and A3 Posters were distributed to all PVI early years settings, schools, libraries, GP Practices, Children’s Centres and the maternity, antenatal/postnatal and paediatrics wards at the local hospital. Bookmarks were also distributed by schools in transition packs, through Children’s Centres and available from local libraries.  

Health visitors, early years’ settings, schools, social care teams, family support workers and foster carers were provided with the A6 ring binder resource. Health Visitors continue to distribute these ring binders to vulnerable families and those families without digital access. 


Calderdale’s Vision 2024 Babies project was launched alongside the 50 things project, seeking to recruit at least 24 families to follow their journey in preparing their child to be school ready in Calderdale using the 50 things app from 2019 to September 2024. 

Social media has been utilised for the promotion of ‘50 things’ particularly during the COVID lockdown. Weekly posts were scheduled for 12 months to go on the Council’s media platforms including Twitter and Facebook. A You Tube video was created to screen at the launch event...

50 Things in the community 

One of our nurseries, linked to a school, had a 50 Things to do Before You’re Five display encouraging parents to send in photos of their child experiencing the activities.  

Another school in Calderdale held a transition morning and gave children opportunities to do some of the activities with their parent/carer, which they could tick off as they experienced them on their app!  

Children’s Centres have positively embraced the 50 things project embedding it within their session planning and promoting to parents/carers as part of their child’s home learning. This support for parents/carers with their child’s home learning was recognised during a recent Local Government Association Peer Review looking at Speech, Language and Communication Needs in the Early Years. In the final report, 50 Things was acknowledged as a strength, “being 50 activities parents and carers can do with children before they turn five, to help boost development”. 

Written by

Rachel Smith 
Health Improvement Specialist | Public Health Team 
Calderdale Council 

Date: 9th July 2020 


If you would like to discuss this case study please contact Andrea Layzell using the following contact details:

01274 543282




Washington Street,
Bradford BD8 9QW


With first-hand experience of raising young children at home, combined with a professional understanding of how children learn, Carrie Priestley is able to speak with authority and enthusiasm about…
50 Things has a strong research pedigree which continues to underpin its development. Our partnership with The Centre for Applied Educational Research (CAER) presents an ongoing opportunity for us to…
Calderdale Council took a population based, universal approach to supporting children to be school ready with the introduction of the ’50 things to do before you’re five’ project.
50 Things was launched in East Sussex in March 2019 at a conference for early years practitioners, which comprised schools and childminders and practitioners from private, voluntary and independent…
Wakefield’s 50 Things was given the green light by the Children’s Board during Covid-19, to help support families and encourage under 5’s to become more school ready.
Kirklees has a varied geography, a range of communities and a wide variety of different languages. It is made up of many communities from rural and industrial areas where there is a wide range of…
The 50 Things app and activities have been promoted as ideas for engaging Leeds parents in their child’s learning. From the outset, our focus has been on learning at home and embedding learning and…
50 Things to Do Before You’re Five in Sheffield has been funded through the City Council’s Lifelong Learning & Skills department, to provide an innovative approach that will deliver benefits to both…