ORIM Network Meeting 2017

An Exploration of Impact and Collaborative Learning!Photo 2

ORIM Network Meeting on 26th May 2017

Led by Professor Cathy Nutbrown, School of Education, University of Sheffield


This was the fifth annual meeting of the ORIM network group which meets to share research and ideas into the effectiveness of the ORIM (Opportunities, Recognition, Interaction and Modelling) model and the impact on Early Years’ work in local authorities, prisons and individual schools and settings from across the country.

This year Professor Cathy Nutbrown chose to focus on considering the effectiveness of ORIM within the national context of the ‘effectiveness’ of parental engagement models and why the ORIM work continues to thrive and expand.

Evaluation photo 2Key Points Made by Cathy Nutbrown

  • Can we identify what it is that makes ORIM work? Its effectiveness as a model for Early Literacy has been proved through, for example, the work and research of the National Children’s Bureau, the research of the Early Intervention Foundation (2016 study) and all of the case studies contributed by co-researchers and practitioners. Why are children and parents who experience REAL projects more actively involved in learning at home?
  • The ORIM framework develops respectful learning relationships which are constructed around the needs and interests of particular families and communities. It grows a ‘professional confidence’ for practitioners and families which transcends barriers at the policy, personal and cultural levels.
  • The ‘community of learners’ created by those using REAL and ORIM needs to meet and to exchange ideas. We need to constantly reinvent the ORIM model and evaluate its effectiveness.


Colleagues contributed to ideas through discussions and sharing case studies describing their work and impact. Key contributors gave short presentations.

Jan Lennon, Family Learning Programme Manager, Warwickshire County CouncilEvaluation photo 3

  • There is a huge focus on using the ORIM model in partnership working including work with children’s centres, nurseries, schools, the library service, speech and language therapists, the priority families team, community centres and health visitors.
  • Family learning now has a raised profile within the county council and the work has reached 345 families. The Family Learning Service was awarded a grant of £65,400 to deliver REAL.

Deborah Hornbuckle, Groupwork Quality and Development Manager, PACT (Prisons, Families, Communities), London Evaluation photo 4

  • FLiP (Family Literacy in Prison) is a prison-based course run by PACT facilitators trained by The University of Sheffield. It supports parents to play a more active role in developing their children’s literacy using simple, everyday practices.
  • So far 201 male and female prisoners have attended FLiP Family Days and this has involved 253 children and 154 partners.
  • There is excellent feedback from these days: “ I decided to do FLiP to understand and teach. I learned how to talk and to work with my child.”

Kate Lashley, Foundation Stage (nursery) and Parent Engagement Lead, Medlock Valley Primary School, OldhamEvaluation photo 5

  • “Making it REAL in Oldham”- Medlock Valley School has been involved in the National Children’s Bureau interventions across Oldham. Kate has led the school’s literacy events for families which include: home visits,  an environmental print hunt, a library visit, a writing party and a touchstones story time and craft session.
  • The impact has been: increased parental engagement with parents being more confident to share information about their children, parents making greater contributions to their children’s learning and accelerated progress in the children’s learning.
  • The School is considering using the ORIM model for parental engagement in Year 1 classes in the future.

Alison Marron and Donna Thorpe REAM (Raising Early Achievement in Maths) Marton Primary Nursery Academy , BlackpoolEvaluation photo 6

  • REAM is based on the ORIM framework and engages parents whilst encouraging Mathematical development. It has shown to have a very positive impact on young children’s outcomes.
  • Marton School is now a hub for training in the local area and the DFE have visited and are very interested in this model and the work and the training that Alison and Donna are undertaking.
  • There is very positive feedback from the families engaged in REAM. One father commented, “ I’ve never had so much fun since the day my child was born!”

Zohra Dabhad (Executive Head) and Zaynab Raja (Manager) Al-Noor Nursery, DewsburyEvaluation photo 7

  • “Dad’s Activity Day” was run because the setting had identified a need to share the children’s learning more with the fathers. (There was already 100% take up with the mothers.)
  • ORIM was used because it was a flexible, collaborative model which engaged all voices- the community, the staff , the children and the parents.
  • The day was a great success! Dads found doing the activities alongside their children very useful and enjoyed the modelling of the language and activities from the staff.
  • “This is a good thing! It’s nice to see what my child is doing in the nursery!” (One father’s comment.)

 Sample Evaluations of the ORIM day

  • “I have learnt a lot more ideas about how to use ORIM. I can see that there are a lot more things that I can do through REAL and REAM.”
  • “I have been struck by the alternative thinking that I have heard today about using the ORIM framework. I have seen very flexible and individual examples of its effectiveness.”
  • “It has been really interesting to see how other colleagues have been able to rise to the challenge of diminishing resources to use ORIM so effectively.”

What’s next? (Examples)

  • By the end of 2017 I plan to identify REAL as an embedded strategy to address the EYFSP data challenges and to enlist Local Authority Support.
  • By the end of 2017 I plan to include ORIM example sheets for each FLiP kit so that visiting parents to prison can see how to promote learning beyond the prison.
  • By the end of 2017 I plan to have engaged more practitioners in Early Years’ settings with using the ORIM framework.

And a plea: “Please can these network meetings continue! I have found today very interesting and very useful!”

 Evaluation photo 8  Evaluation photo 9
 Evaluation photo 10  Photo 4

Thank you to Professor Cathy Nutbrown and to all of our colleagues and co-researchers! Thank you to colleagues who couldn’t attend this time but who sent in resources, questions and comments. We hope to see you all again next year!

For further information about ORIM and REAL please see the following websites:

Sheffield REAL Project Home

The National Children’s Bureau

Supporting Parents and Children to Learn Together

Or follow Cathy on Twitter at @ORIM network / #ORIM network