Save Our Early Years

How a 12 month social media campaign saved our early years




The Situation

The Government introduced a new policy in September 2014 that meant nursery staff could only qualify as Level 3 Early Years Educators if they had GCSEs in both English and maths at grade C or above. The policy meant alternative qualifications in literacy and numeracy, such as Functional Skills, no longer counted. The changes meant nurseries were left chronically short-staffed –at a time when demand was rising.

PLMR was enlisted in March 2016 by awarding body CACHE to campaign for the policy to be scrapped. Our strategy was to:

  • Energetically campaign across digital, social and traditional platforms to build momentum
  • Build a coalition of support among parents, early years staff, nursery managers, sector leaders and opposition politicians
  • Encourage them to lobby the Education Secretary and key Ministers directly

What we did

PLMR used social media campaigning to build maximum awareness, creating a bedrock of support, enhanced by our public relations and lobbying activity.

We created a name and logo for the campaign –#SaveOurEarlyYears–and a bespoke website. Its aim was to explain a complex issue in simple, accessible terms, with a strong call to action. The social media and digital elements of the campaign were:

  • A branded and highly active Twitter account, with regular daily monitoring and management, building audiences entirely organically
  • A one-click system that sent tweets directly to the Education Secretary from the website, allowing supporters to actively help the campaign
  • A series of shareable and digestible infographics that helped make the issue easily understood by potential supporters
  • A series of short, highly shareable video clips, utilising Twitter’s video auto-play feature, showing campaign support from important voices in the early education sector
  • A one-click system that sent a pre-written email letter directly to the Education Secretary, urging her to reverse the decision, which was shared regularly on Twitter
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Impressions on social media – a testament to the number of users our campaign reached online
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Early years locations represented by the coalition of supporters our campaign put together, amassed predominately through our Twitter interactions
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Digital campaign messages sent through our website to the Education Secretary, calling for the policy to be scrapped

The Result

In March 2017, after a year of our campaigning, and two-and-a-half years after the policy was introduced, Childcare Minister, Caroline Dinenage’s officials informed us that the GCSE-only policy would be scrapped and Functional Skills would be reinstated from 1stApril.

As one nursery manager told us: “Without your drive we would still be in this boat. We are elated, one member of staff cried because it means so much to her. So THANK YOU.”

Add PLMR to your contacts

PLMR’s crisis communications experience is second to none, and includes pre-emptive and reactive work across traditional and social media channels. We work with a range of organisations to offer critical communication support when they are faced with difficult and challenging scenarios.