Sure Start: celebration and reflection

Supported by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation

22nd February, 2-5:30pm, Hong Kong Theatre, Clement House, LSE


Naomi 5 2012Edward MelhuishCarey-oppenheimSusie OwenKathy SylvaPollyPhoto2Jpeg (2) (1) (2) (1)Torsten-BellJohn Hills


January 2019 marks twenty years since Tessa Jowell, then Public Health Minister, announced the first sixty Sure Start Trailblazer areas. In tribute to Tessa Jowell, this half-day conference will reflect on what has been learned from the evaluations of Sure Start and its successor, Children's Centres, what those involved at the time think now about the initiative, and what it has taught us as a way forward for integrated early years services. 

Tickets available here 

Speakers include:

Naomi Eisenstadt is Visiting Senior Fellow at LSE International Inequalities Institute.

Edward Melhuish is Professor of Human Development at the University of Oxford, and Birkbeck, University of London and led the National Evaluation of Sure Start.

Carey Oppenheim is Visiting Senior Fellow at LSE International Inequalities Institute.

Susie Owen joined the Department of Education as Deputy Director Early Years in April 2016. 

Baroness Philippa Stroud is Chair of the Social Metrics Commission and Chief Executive of the Legatum Foundation.

Kathy Sylva (@edst0026 ) is Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Oxford, and led the Evaluation of Children's Centres in England.

Polly Toynbee, commentator for The Guardian, is the former BBC Social Affairs Editor. She has won Commentator of the Year awards and the George Orwell prize.  


Torsten Bell (@TorstenBell) is Director of the Resolution Foundation.


Professor John Hills is Chair of CASE and Richard Titmuss Professor of Social Policy at LSE.

A document signed by Tessa and David Blunkett, then Secretary of State for Education and Employment, set out the core purpose of Sure Start:

• To reshape and add value to local services for families – mothers, fathers, grandparents, other carers and children

• To provide better and more coordinated support for them in bringing up their children

These were great promises in very optimistic times. Some strong themes stand out that still have currency: joined up services, area based rather than individual family targeting, and the importance of early years. There have been tremendous changes in the early years’ landscape in the last twenty years but commitment to young children remains.

The International Inequalities Institute (@LSEInequalities)at LSE brings together experts from many LSE departments and centres to lead critical and cutting edge research to understand why inequalities are escalating in numerous arenas across the world, and to develop critical tools to address these challenges.

The conference will be followed by a reception