Many research pieces have shown that children across the UK enter the education system unprepared, not only in Oldham. One of the best ways to equip children for lifelong learning is to ensure their very first experiences with learning are positive ones.
With early years support, we aim to make a difference in how children first engage with education in Oldham to give them the best start possible.
Oldham Opportunity Area aims to provide a range of resources and early years support to help the children of Oldham. We will use the Making it REAL approach in up to ten early years settings in one ward in Oldham where the percentage of children achieving a ‘good level of development’ by age 5 is lower than the national average.
Practitioners from schools, early years settings, Home Start, Life-Long Learning and Right Start will attend train and networks together to strengthen relationships across the district and to share best practices. Previously, Making it REAL trained parents and practitioners will be on hand to provide initial training and provide support.
This is an exciting project that aims to boost children’s language skills by increasing the diversity of children’s experiences at home. The aim is to get parents involved with their children in a range of low- or no-cost experiences that help develop children’s oracy skills and confidence. As well as providing early years support, the project will also enrich the children’s lives more broadly. As a result, children will thrive cognitively, physically, emotionally, and be more ready for primary school.
Since the Opportunity Area programme began, the good level of development achievement rate has improved to 68.1% in 2019. In our fifth year (2021-2022), we will build on our successes in this area with even more exciting projects and early years support designed to engage children in their first five years.
When the Oldham Opportunity Area was formed in 2016, fewer than half of Oldham’s children eligible for free school meals achieved a good level of development. The good development levels that children achieved depended on where they lived; 80% of 5-year-olds in Saddleworth, North and Saddleworth South, compared to less than 50% of 5-year-olds in St Mary’s.
Girls performed better than boys across the borough; by more than 40% in Shaw, and by more than 30% in Royton South. And, between 2015 and 2016, 68% of children with English as a first language achieved a good level of development, compared to only 48% of children with English as an additional language.
The Better Communication Team is made up of speech and language therapists, and advisors recruited from the NHS and local schools. The team’s aim is to develop the knowledge, skills and confidence of the early years workforce in Oldham. This will support the speech, language, and communication (SLC) development of all young children in Oldham.
Any SLC needs are identified in a timely way with high-quality support and intervention offered that follows the Greater Manchester SLC pathway.
Personal, Social and Emotional Development (PSED) helps children to develop positive attitudes when establishing relationships with others and themselves. It supports the way they learn effective interaction skills and this approach needs the input of the adults who are closest to them.
We will support practitioners to gain an understanding of how we can measure and support children’s well-being as they develop emotionally, using the internationally recognised Leuven Scales of Well-being as a framework. Additional resources will be used to support with monitoring, evaluating provision, practice, and pedagogy to improve outcomes for children in their PSED.
Practitioners will explore the critical roles wellbeing and involvement play in high-quality learning. They will consider how to maximise the potential of the learning environment and interactions with children. We will provide practitioners with an overview of the Leuven Scales of Well-being to boost confidence and increase understanding of how to implement the framework.