Bristol Achieving for All (BAFA)

Update March 2019 – We have refreshed the scope and title of the Bristol Boys’ Achievement Project (BBAP)

Since its introduction in 2016, the Bristol Boys’ Achievement Project (BBAP) has evolved and responded to changing priorities.

At our most recent Learning Hub meetings, in January and February, you will have heard that the BBAP steering group agreed to refresh the scope of the project to reflect Bristol’s early years data and importantly, our priority to secure inclusive and equitable opportunity for all children. For this reason we are now calling the project Bristol Aspiring for All (BAFA).  

Your inspirational, practitioner-led research is positively contributing to boys’ achievement and to the quality of provision for boys in early years settings across Bristol. However, our EYFS Profile data tells us that some groups of girls in Bristol also underachieve compared to Bristol’s average attainment for girls and to national comparator data. We are aware that boys continue to achieve less well than girls and that there are still very wide gaps in attainment for particular groups, for example, boys who are eligible for Free School Meals or Pupil Premium and some groups of BME boys.

Our aim is for the project to encompass the learning and development needs of each unique child in Bristol and for you to engage in action-research to identify effective ways to improve outcomes for the children in your setting who are at risk of underachievement.  We are updating the project aims and rationale on the website to reflect the change of focus.

Most of you are currently undertaking research to improve boys’ outcomes, and clearly it’s important to complete your research.  In future reviews of your children’s progress, consideration of the achievement of all children should guide your decision concerning future research so that all children who are vulnerable to underachievement are included.

Please let me know if you would like any help with publishing and sharing your research on the BAFA website. It’s always exciting to read new case studies and your research encourages others to take the plunge to begin their own research.

Many thanks for your continued involvement in BAFA.

Best wishes

Elizabeth Fee

Early Years Improvement Officer

Bristol Aspiring for All (BAFA) Rationale and Aims

BAFA seeks to explore how we might improve the educational achievement of children who are at risk of underachieving in their learning and development. We use EYFS Profile attainment data at the end of the reception year to identify the groups of children whose attainment has been historically low in comparison to Bristol’s average attainment.
The project works on a number of levels to raise the aspirations and expectations of early years educators and families in Bristol.

Schools, children’s centres, private, voluntary and independent settings (PVI) and childminders are involved in the project.

Strong ethical considerations and protocols underpin the project to ensure it is undertaken in an affirmative manner using a credit approach, involving families as partners in working on the home learning environment (HLE) as well as teachers and practitioners working together following an action research approach.

We use findings from national research and reports which identify key aspects of practice and provision that contribute to improving outcomes for disadvantaged groups and which help to inform possible lines of enquiry by individual or groups of early years settings.
The engagement of community groups / organisations is integral to the project to promote greater understanding of the value of early intervention especially for some groups of children.

The BAFA operates on two levels; universal and targeted. The universal aspect is addressed through quality improvement visits to all YR classes in schools and all pre-school settings. Awareness is raised about Bristol’s priorities concerning particular groups of children who are underachieving and it is an opportunity for professional dialogue about settings’ own approaches to improving outcomes for these particular groups.

The targeted project involves self-selected early years settings that decide they would like to participate in practitioner-led action research. The rationale underpinning this approach is that improvement which is led and owned by the practitioners is more likely to become embedded and sustainable in the long term.
Three area BAFA Learning Hubs are established. Hub meetings are held once each term for project participants.
Sub-hub meetings are held once each term for groups of schools/children’s centres/PVI settings working jointly on specific research enquiries. Mentoring and support for research participants is provided by children’s centre lead teachers and Specialist Leaders in Education (SLEs) designated through the Teaching School and National College of Teaching and Leadership.
We have a dedicated web-page on the Bristol Early Years website which provides additional information to support practitioners undertaking research and offers a great opportunity to share practitioners’ research case studies.  

We hope that you will find the research case studies, undertaken as part of the original Bristol Boy’s Achievement Project (BBAP), interesting and inspiring. Perhaps you will be encouraged to join the project and participate in the stimulating discussions held during the Hub and sub Hub meetings as well as enjoying the support of early years colleagues in your own research.


Project Aims:

  • To address the national and Bristol’s priority to narrow the gap in achievement of some groups of children, ref: ‘Unknown children – destined for disadvantage’ Ofsted July 2016
  • To consider the key points made in the report by the DfE in ‘Unlocking Talent, Fulfilling Potential – a plan to improve social mobility through education’ (Dec 2017)
  • To bring together schools, children’s centres and PVI settings to explore the barriers and issues of long-standing low achievement by some groups of children and to participate in an enquiry led approach to address their learning and development needs
  • To work in partnership with families and communities to explore strategies which will inform sustainable approaches enabling families to support their children to make the best possible progress in their learning and development and to contribute to the social mobility of children living at a disadvantage
  • To disseminate the outcomes of the project widely with early years and primary colleagues and to use the findings to inform the practice in nationally funded initiatives such as the 2 Year Old Free Early Education and Childcare Entitlement, the Early Years and School Pupil Premium and the Troubled Families programme
  • To produce practical information and guidance for practitioners working with families and early years children to enable them to support the learning and development of children to improve their educational outcomes and sense of well-being

Please contact Foundation Years Consultants if you would like to participate in the project or if you want to find out more about the project.

Nicky Bale South Bristol

Smi Pearce East Central Bristol

Kate Hubble North Bristol

Bristol Boys’ Achievement Project Update (November 2018)

Excitingly, we are into our third year of the Boys’ Project and it’s heartening to find that there is still strong enthusiasm and interest in participating in this fantastic opportunity to narrow the attainment gap for boys in Bristol.  We currently have 60 settings, including schools, private, voluntary and independent (PVI) settings and children’s centres, that are investigating self-chosen lines of enquiry with their colleagues, to improve boys’ learning and development.

Practitioners meet once a term at Area Learning Hub meetings to listen to guest speakers and to share the progress of their own research. In between times, they meet informally with others who are researching similar themes. Practitioners have found the meetings a great opportunity to be a part of a learning community. They talk about the enjoyment of engaging in research with colleagues in their own settings and the effect that the research has on raising the level of professional discussion about their pedagogic practice.

Lead teachers and Foundation Years Consultants coordinate the Area Learning Hub meetings and provide additional support to settings on request. They provide guidance on organisational aspects of conducting research as well as on how to document learning from the research.

The BBAP webpage is now established and research case studies are posted as they become available. They showcase the wide diversity of the enquiries which settings explored, the strategies they used and importantly the impact on boys’ learning and development.

In the new year, we will be working with Bristol University to evaluate the progress of the Boys’ Project so far and to inform the future direction of the project.

The 2018 Early Years Profile assessments, made at the end of the reception year in schools, show mixed results this year with some groups of boys improving and others falling further behind. Bristol’s early years gender gap widened slightly but on a positive note it is narrower than the national gender gap. We continue to have very wide gaps for boys who are eligible for free school meals or access the Pupil Premium.

By focusing sharply on the learning and development needs of boys through action research we can improve our provision and practice to ensure all boys make a good start in the early years so that they start Key Stage 1 with positive and self-confident dispositions to learning.

If you are interested in participating in the Boys’ Project please contact the lead teacher at your nearest children’s centre, a Foundation Years Consultant or Elizabeth Fee. It is possible to start your research at any point and the dates for the Area Learning Hubs are below.

BBAP Area Learning Hub meeting dates and venues:

North Bristol Hub – 6th February 2019, 4.00 -5.30pm, Filton Avenue Nursery School and Children’s Centre

East Central Bristol  Hub – 4th February 2019, 4.00-5.30pm, St Paul’s Nursery School and Children’s Centre

South Bristol Hub – 7th February 2019, 4.00-5.30pm, Knowle West Nursery School and Children’s Centre

Elizabeth Fee

Early Years Improvement Officer – Project Coordinator for the BBAP


We are building a bank of resources to support your early years research project.  Links to suggested further reading in each of the key research hubs can be found below.  Or contact us and let us know how we can make this website more relevant to you and your practice.

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