Amidst the ever-growing cost of living crisis numerous families throughout the United Kingdom find themselves struggling to pay the bills. However, amidst this challenging situation, RRT’s Early Bird Learning program has emerged as a ray of hope. By donating over 500 kits every term, this initiative has successfully made a positive impact on child hunger. Read more to find out how our Early Bird Learning packs have supported the Kirkby Church of England Primary School!



Elaine Parr is Extended Services Manager at Kirkby Church of England Primary School, a single form entry school in Kirkby where she deals with everything from after school clubs to fundraising.

Figures show that in 2021/22 there were 4.7 million people, or 7% of the UK population, in food poverty, including 12% of children.[1] Right now, a lot of families in Kirkby are struggling. Children often don’t qualify for free school meals if one parent is working. If they lose their job, benefits are taking up to 16 weeks to kick in. ‘We do fuel support, we do clothing support,’ said Elaine, ‘but we have a very high level of children who are hungry.’

When the charity Rapid Relief Team (RRT) approached her with an offer of Food Boxes for families in need she was delighted to accept. The boxes contain food for four people for three days and Elaine doesn’t have to fill out forms or put the family on a waiting list. The box contains staples such as pasta and rice, coffee and tea but also some treats such as hot dogs and chocolate.

The school realised that to avoid the spread of Covid19, children needed to have their own water bottle. Not all families could provide this but the Rapid Relief Team stepped in to make sure no child was excluded.


The friendly Kookaburra

Cookie is a cuddly Kookaburra toy who features in the Early Bird Learning videos. He is also often found in the reading corner. Teachers use him as a role model as he is well behaved, tries his best, and is always willing to help others. Sometimes a teacher will tell children that she will be asking Cookie to keep an eye on them. This makes them settle down and try harder. If Cookie goes home with a child for the weekend, they are asked take photos or draw pictures to show what they have been up to and then talk to the class in the Monday Show and Tell.

Teachers have noticed that children have been badly affected by Covid and lockdown. ‘Some have not had the opportunities to socialise and we use Cookie to help them to develop empathy,’ said Elaine.  ‘We tell them that he is a stranger to Kirkby and talk about what we can do to make him feel at home.’ They also use him to encourage speaking and listening and taking turns. Children hold Cookie and can talk to him if they feel unable to make eye contact and talk in front of other children. Then they pass Cookie to the next child who wants to talk.

Helping children in and out of school

There are Early Bird Learning workbooks to help children with their reading, writing, basic maths, motor skills and shape recognition. The attractive spiral bound books are full of colourful illustrations and teachers at Kirkby C of E school are using them for small group work with children who need a boost with their literacy and numeracy.

The school is using the Early Bird Learning reward charts for children with behaviour issues. These have been so successful that they are sending copies home for families to use to forestall arguments about going to bed, getting up on time, cleaning their teeth. This means there is a consistent approach and children learn they must keep up the good work both at home and at school.

The RRT team will be at the school for the Greenfields festival on July 7th running a refreshment stall, providing burger meals and hot dog meals. ‘They did this for us last year,’ said Elaine, ‘and it was absolutely wonderful. The families were blown away.’




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