Parents urged to access vital funding to help children become ‘school ready’

09 Oct 2017
Ensuring a child is ready for school, regardless of their background, is a key priority for the Liverpool City Region Life Chances Commission which informs the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority’s Health, Adult and Children’s Services Portfolio.

The Commission has found in a survey that the Early Years Pupil Premium, a fund worth up to £300 per week which is aimed at helping three- and four-year-olds become ‘school ready’, is having a positive impact on disadvantaged children’s development in the Liverpool City Region:-

- Most childcare providers see clear improvements in confidence, self-esteem, language and communication skills as a result of the funding.
- Funding is generally being used on communication and language training, early literacy programmes, play-based learning and social and emotional learning strategies.
- Using funding for play and outdoor based learning has improved social and emotional skills as well as language and communication.
- One respondent to the survey stated that “most children in last year’s cohort made more than expected or accelerated progress in most areas of learning”, as a result of an Early Years Pupil Premium funded programme.
- A number of providers stated that the Early Talk Boost and Chatterjacks programmes in particular have improved communication and language skills.

However, take-up of the funding remains incomplete, with around a third of childcare providers surveyed by the Commission not receiving any Early Years Pupil Premium funding. Those providers are aware of eligible children who were not claiming the extra funding, and one of the main reasons for this is due to a lack of awareness amongst parents that they are able to apply for it.

The Commission today announces two moves to help counter this low rate of take-up. It has:

- As an immediate move, urged every local authority to use their benefits data automatically to register eligible families for this additional support, before the full Universal Credit service arrives.
- As a longer term measure, requested that the Minister of State for Digital develop a new digital charter to counter child poverty and equalise life chances. This would enable improved sharing of data between providers and local authorities, once Universal Credit has been rolled out, so that all eligible children automatically benefit from Early Years Pupil Premium and free school meals. 

The Commission’s Chair, Frank Field MP said: ‘We are clearly seeing improvements in a child’s development where the Early Years Pupil Premium funding has been claimed.  The early years are a critical time during a child’s development and the funding provides opportunities that can be life-changing.  Whilst the money isn’t necessarily visible to parents, it does benefit their child, so it’s vitally important that parents of eligible children apply for it.’

In the meantime, the Commission is urging parents to apply now so their children can benefit from this additional support. To find out more about eligibility, or to apply for funding, parents can contact their Nursery or Childminder in the first instance.  Further information about the Early Years Pupil Premium Fund is available from local Family Information Services.

Cllr Andy Moorhead, Portfolio Holder for the Liverpool City Region Health, Adult and Children’s Services added “Our priority is to ensure children across the Liverpool City Region get the very best start in life and Early Years Pupil Premium funding can provide additional support and resources to accelerate a child’s development. I would urge any parent to speak to their childcare provider to see if they are eligible and ensure the funding is claimed – if we don’t claim, someone else will!”