The Board received a report from the Strategic Director – People, which outlined the Early Outcomes Fund (EOF) and Halton’s successful bid in receiving a part share of this fund.
It was reported that in July 2017, the Secretary of State for Education set an ambition to halve the proportion of children who did not achieve at least expected levels across all goals in the ‘communication and language’ and ‘literacy’ areas of learning at the end of reception year by 2028. This ambition built on the work announced in the Paper: Unlocking Talent, Fulfilling Potential: A plan for improving social mobility through Education, published in December 2017, which set out plans to close the word gap in the early years.
The report summarised the context of the bid, the evidence of local self-assessment which underpinned the bid and the proposed content of the bid.
It was noted that Halton had been awarded a total amount of £582,750.77, which would be paid over the lifetime of the Programme – from 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020.
Details on the ‘TALK Halton’ Project; the task and finish group; and the strategic board, all set up as part of the overall strategy, were discussed in the report.
How would children be identified for this project?
Practitioners would pick them up; key people who have received speech and language training to do this particular job. It was hoped that 100% of all 4 year olds, 75% of all 3 year olds and 50% of all two year olds would be screened by the end of the project, so that each child’s need was identified.
Was the voluntary sector involved?
Yes they are most definitely involved with the project.
If the Project was successful, does the Council have the capacity to continue to deliver it, as the funding was just for one year?
All partners made a commitment to continue the principles which underpin the project once the funding had finished. The DfE were keen for us to introduce ‘strategic change’ which would also ensure that long-term change was effected.
Investment would be made into training and upskilling staff; including training in the use of the Wellkomm Toolkit which was key, and its use would be continued. More effective support at universal level would result in more capacity at targeted level.
There are areas in Halton that were more in need than others, will they be targeted and how will you ensure parents will engage?
This project was aimed at upskilling early year practitioners and in the development of a ‘total communication approach’ in early years settings. It was not primarily aimed at parents. It was important however that parents did engage and they would be encouraged to do so, through the work going on in our Children’s Centres and the Adult and Family Learning Team.
Members agreed that a progress report be submitted to the Board in January and the Chair suggested that it include some sustainability data for Members to see.
RESOLVED: That the Board
1) welcomes the award of the Early Outcomes Funding for Halton; and
2) requests a progress update report on the Project for the January meeting of the Policy and Performance Board.