Frank Field MP
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Ensuring that children are ready for school

Just over a year ago the six local authorities that make up the Merseyside city region formed a poverty and life chances commission. The commission has been set up to look at best practice across the six authorities. 

On Friday I chaired a meeting where the key staff involved in the foundation years came together to talk about how they are preparing to ensure that children are ready for school. The mfigures for the region show that something like 40 per cent of children are far from ready for their first day in school.

Over the past 12 years local authorities have established Sure Start Children’s Centres. The point of our meeting was to look at how effectively Sure Starts are engaging with those families who need most help.

The reach of Sure Start varies between local authorities, and no doubt within local authorities. The six boroughs have now agreed to use the same definitions in order to measure the effectiveness of their reach.

What is crucial is that, ideally before birth, but certainly shortly afterwards, Sure Start tries to engage those mothers who find nurturing their child most difficult.

In Wirral, when Sure Starts get details of a new birth in their area, staff will knock on doors to make contact. It sounds simple but it will mean that before long, Sure Starts will have to make contact with the most vulnerable mums and dads. This could make a real difference and ensure that support is provided for those who need it most.

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