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Changes to the Bookstart Scheme

21 September 2022
Young girl choosing a book

Dear Colleagues,

Bookstart Pre-Schooler

 This communication is to inform you about the major changes coming to the Bookstart programme this academic year.  As you may be aware until recently Bookstart consisted of the following offers:

  • Bookstart Baby – a universal offer for all 0–1-year-olds, delivered in Essex via birth registration appointments
  • Bookstart Treasure – a universal offer for 3/4-year-olds, delivered in Essex primarily via the pre-school sector.

From Autumn 2022, whilst Baby is continuing as a universal offer, the offer for Toddler’s and Pre-schooler’s is changing to a targeted offer.  In Essex we will be delivering this in the following ways:

  • Bookstart Toddler (for 1–2-year-olds) – via the Essex Child and Family Wellbeing Service in the levelling up areas, with Health Visitors and Family Support practitioners gifting packs to families they have identified as possibly needing more help to make shared reading a regular part of their lives
  • Bookstart Pre-School (for 3–4-year-olds) – via early years settings, including childminders, to children on the Early Years Pupil Premium (EYPP). The families will be notified they are due a pack by the setting and then they will collect their pack from the local library

What this will mean for settings:

  • If you have children on the EYPP, at some point during this academic year, you will receive another communication containing full instructions on how to administer the scheme and a letter for you to pass onto families who are on the EYPP
  • That letter will contain an invitation for the family to collect their pack from the local library, and to join the library at the same time if they are not already members
  • Libraries will also be running monthly story times that the families will be invited to attend (these sessions will be open to all families)
  • As we will receive our allocation of packs spilt across three deliveries (Autumn term; Spring Term and Summer Term) we will be staggering the distribution of these letters, so some settings may not receive them until later in the academic year.

We appreciate that this new approach may be disappointing to settings as you will no longer have something that you can give to all children, but we hope that the approach we are taking will enable us to reach families who can most benefit from the scheme in a non-stigmatising way.

We’d also like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that you can set up a library card for your setting.  This will enable you to borrow 20 items for 12 weeks.  To set up your card just visit your local library with proof that you work for the setting (or that you are a childminder) and library staff will be able to set that up for you.

Thank you for your ongoing support to roll out the Bookstart offer to Essex families.

From the Bookstart project team