The Department for Education (DfE) announced on Tuesday that they would be investing £22m in order to create 1,800 school-based nursery places for children in disadvantaged areas.

Schools in Suffolk and Essex will be receiving funding, but Norfolk missed out on the scheme aiming to improve access to better-quality early education.

The scheme was announced alongside a new DfE campaign called ‘Hungry Little Minds’, to help raise children’s’ literacy and communication skills.

Damian Hinds said when launching the campaigns: “Part of making sure our children have the opportunity to take advantage of all the joys of childhood and growing up, is supporting them to develop the language and communication skills they need to express themselves.

“Sadly, too many children are starting school without these – and all too often, if there’s a gap at the very start of school, it tends to persist, and grow.

“The only way we are going to solve this is through a relentless focus on improving early communication.”

The level of children reaching good levels of literacy has increased in the past six years, but still, 1 in 4 children leave reception without the key skills.

Hungry Little Minds is aiming to provide parents with tips, videos and advice to target their children’s learning during the three-year-long campaign.

A DfE spokesperson said that only a minimal amount of requests had been obtained from Norfolk settings relating to the investment for school-based nursery locations, and only offers that met the rigorous quality requirements, and support for disadvantaged children were effective in obtaining financing.

Norfolk and Fenland however, were two areas of Norfolk which were chosen for the Opportunity Areas scheme, launched in 2017, to increase educational attainment and improve social mobility for disadvantaged children.

Meanwhile, Hellesdon’s infant school was Norfolk’s only school selected as one of 34 English hubs in a domestic DfE system to raise standards of literacy and reading.

Story by: Eastern Daily Press


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