About Nesta

Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.

This event took place on Thursday 2 March. You can watch the recording below.

The cost of living crisis and the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic has hindered many children from getting the best possible start in life. The UK needs to ensure policy and innovation work together with practitioners and parents on the ground to give children the right support they need to thrive. How can the industry connect the dots?

As founder and director of Bradford Birth to 19, Christian Bunting knows the importance of innovation and collaboration to improve outcomes for children. Bradford Birth to 19 brings schools, teachers, practitioners, researchers and local authorities together, to deliver training, framework and guidance for those who work with children and young people. It has worked with over 150 schools, 25 local authorities and over 1,000 teachers, connecting the latest research with practical experience to improve services for children in Bradford. Nationally, it runs 50 Things To Do Before You’re Five, an initiative which suggests low-cost local activities for families, enhancing children’s experiences out of the classroom.

Christian Bunting joined us on Thursday 2 March for a live conversation with Nesta’s Tom Symons, Deputy Director of our fairer start mission. In this online event, Christian shared insights into the organisations’ work, the positive impact it has had on childhood attainment and how to achieve similar successes elsewhere.

Why you should watch the recording

This event was for anyone interested in improving outcomes for young people, whether you’re a parent, practitioner or work in education, policy, research, local or national government. 

Christian and Tom discussed the challenges encountered when innovating in a public service system, why the system needs change, how to overcome barriers and approaches others can adopt.

The opinions expressed in this event recording are those of the speaker. For more information, view our full statement on external contributors.


Christian Bunting

Christian Bunting


Christian Bunting is the founder and director of Bradford Birth to 19, which leads place-based improvement projects in the North of England and increasingly across the UK. Based at St Edmund's Nursery School, in Bradford, Birth to 19 is a leading player in early years education in the UK. It is designated as the Department For Education's Early Years Stronger Practice Hub for Yorkshire & the Humber, which will see it provide improvement support for the region's childminders, private nurseries and schools. Christian's organisation also leads the innovative 50 Things To Do Before You're Five initiative, a digital offer for families including an app, website and social media campaign. 50 Things is now in place in 20 local authority areas across the UK, reaching well over 500,000 children. Christian's strong interest is in research and data-informed strategy, which connects health and education policy, enabling sustained progress in outcomes for all children and young people, especially those growing up in disadvantaged circumstances.

Tom Symons.final

Tom Symons


Tom Symons is the deputy mission director for the fairer start mission at Nesta. His research focuses on government innovation and he is currently undertaking research into the ways data can help governments to improve decision making and support innovation. Prior to Nesta, Tom was an associate at Social Finance, a not-for-profit organisation that works with government, the social sector and the finance community to develop solutions to complex social problems. At Social Finance Tom worked on projects developing Social Impact Bonds and whole systems change programmes in local public services, including children’s services, early years provision and health and social care integration. Tom previously worked at the Local Government Association, and before that was a senior researcher at the think tank New Local Government Network. Tom began his career as a graduate trainee at the London Borough of Islington. He has a BA in economics and politics from Exeter University and an MA in housing from the University of Westminster.