Programme information for the early years workforce, Child and Family Centres, and community groups.

What is Making it REAL?

REAL stands for Raising Early Achievement in Literacy. The original REAL Project was developed by Dr Cathy Nutbrown from The University of Sheffield, who later worked with the National Children’s Bureau to develop the Making it REAL programme.

The Project

Making it REAL is a two-day professional development programme that trains early years practitioners in how to underpin and enhance their literacy practice. The Making it REAL programme also focuses on supporting families of children aged two to five years old to improve their children’s early literacy development. Practitioners will learn how to deliver small-scale literacy events for families and find out more about how to support some families who might benefit from home visits.

Making it REAL is based on the Opportunities, Recognition, Interaction and Modelling (ORIM) framework, which highlights four approaches parents can take to create a home learning environment that supports children’s early literacy development:

  1. Creating opportunities for children’s literacy development by making children’s books, CDs and writing materials available and accessible in the home environment;
  2. Recognising and encouraging children’s literacy milestones;
  3. Interacting with children positively and supporting real-life literacy tasks and;
  4. Acting as models of literacy users, so children see parents use literacy in everyday life.

Talking Together in Cambridgeshire (TTiC) is offering the workforce a final opportunity to attend the full two-day Making it REAL course free of charge before they move towards providing the Lite version of the course in 2024.

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Date Time Location
Wednesday, 20 March 2024 9.15 am to 4 pm Huntingdon Library
Wednesday, 27 March 2024 9.15 am to 3.30 pm Priory House, Huntingdon

Typically, practitioners involved in the Making it REAL programme, also deliver literacy events which are open to all parents in their setting. During these events, practitioners can introduce parents to the four strands of literacy - Oral Language and Rhyme, Environmental Print, Early Mark Making, and Books. Literacy events can be held in the nursery setting but could also take place at a local venue such as a library, a park or a museum.

Practitioners will also have the option of delivering home visits to selected families. Practitioners identify the families from their setting they believe will most benefit from the programme. Practitioners visit those families in the home as well as deliver literacy events for all the parents in the setting. During the home visits, practitioners further introduce families to the four strands of literacy. Practitioners provide linked activities which they will leave with the parent, and which will help the parent support their child to develop within the strand of literacy.

Throughout the school year, practitioners will be invited to attend termly network meetings to support their delivery of Making it REAL.

Who can join the training?

This training is for family-facing early years practitioners including childminders, Child and Family Centre staff, setting practitioners, and representatives from TTiC-funded groups who work with families of children aged two to five years old.

Does it cost anything?

This training is being offered for a limited period with no joining fee. Although the training is free, settings must consider the cost of releasing staff for training, literacy events, network meetings and optional home visits.

Settings and Child and Family Centres in some geographical reach areas across Cambridgeshire will be able to apply for a small two-part bursary to support this work. Please contact to find out whether you can access this funding.

Why are we funding the training?

The original REAL Project saw a significant positive impact on the early reading, writing and language skills of the children taking part. Since the original study, Making it REAL has been delivered to over 80 local authorities in England and has had several small-scale external evaluations. Results of these evaluations show Making it REAL has a significant positive impact on children’s home learning environment (Sutton Trust, 2018) and increases parental confidence in supporting children’s early literacy (CREC, 2021).

What are the potential benefits for my setting?

Two practitioners from each setting will be able to attend the training and network events free of charge. TTiC also anticipates several positive outcomes for families and practitioners from this programme. For example, it is expected that by the end of the programme, parents will be more confident in supporting their children at home and that practitioners will be more effective in offering early literacy support.

How to apply?

You can book two free places on the Making it REAL training course via Booking and reservations for Early Years Workforce Development.



Telephone: 01223 699 671