It is in response to research which shows the early years attainment gap is almost twice as large in the North of the country than it is in London.
Today (4 September), members of the Education Select Committee will visit the first school to benefit from the fund, which has been set up by the education charity SHINE. Corrie Primary and Nursery School in Tameside will use the fund to test approaches that focus on developing children’s communication and maths skills.
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The committee’s trip to the school forms part of a two-day fact finding visit of the region in response to the Northern Powerhouse Partnership’s Educating the North report, published earlier this year. The report recommended a number of ways to close the educational attainment gap between children in the North of England and the rest of the country. It also showed that the early years are crucial to the future educational success of the North.
Corrie Primary school serves a high proportion of children from disadvantaged backgrounds, and many struggle with communication, language and maths skills when they arrive at Reception.
With support and funding from SHINE, the school will be developing children’s core maths skills through daily maths meetings in small groups, as well as whole-class sessions based around maths stories and songs. Children’s classwork will be shared with parents and publicised using social media.
There will also be a focus on helping parents to develop and practise maths at home, complimenting the learning taking place during the school day. Each family will be given a playbag that will include props, stories and a crib sheet of activities.
Corrie Primary and Nursery School’s headteacher Naomi Cartledge, said, ‘Many children arrive at our school and they’re not "number ready". They can also find it hard to communicate with their teacher. Without those basic skills, they then lag behind other students in maths as well as language for the rest of their time at our school.
‘We strongly believe that all children should have the best start possible and that’s why we applied for funding from SHINE. By developing key skills early on and sustaining the intervention, we can set the best foundations for a child’s education. We can’t wait to start delivering this project and share our learning with other schools across the North West.’
Fiona Spellman, chief executive of SHINE, said, ‘We are delighted to be announcing our first wave of Ready for School programmes to help narrow the communication and language gap across the North of England.
‘We believe that all children should be given the opportunity to achieve the best possible qualifications so they can leave school with real choices for their future lives. These programmes will enable many young children to gain a better start to their education and to thrive throughout their time at school. We’re looking forward to working closely with all of our programmes to understand their impact and scale up the most effective approaches.’