The Mayor’s focus on school readiness highlights the need for good practice sharing and promotion
By Graham Whitham
Today is the first day at school for about 35,000 children across Greater Manchester. Last week Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, set out his plan to focus on early years and ensure that children have the skills and support they need to do well at school.
Despite improvements across Greater Manchester, the city region still lags behind the national average when it comes to the proportion of children who are ‘school ready’ (the government’s measure of whether children have certain basic skills when they start primary school).
The evidence suggests that improvements in school readiness aren’t evenly spread across different households, with children from low income households still much more likely to lack basic skills when they are four and five.
GMPA welcomes the Mayor’s focus on this agenda. A collaborative and joined up approach across GM can ensure that childcare providers, schools, parents and other stakeholders can work together to ensure children in our city region get the best start in life. There are already examples of good practice within and outside GM, and GMPA would like to see more being done to ensure local authorities and others are able to evidence and promote good practice. This extends beyond a focus on early years, to wider family and child poverty strategies and initiatives. Too often, good practice in one part of the country remains under the radar or, where there is awareness of it, can’t be replicated in other areas due to lack of funding.
Fostering a culture of good practice sharing and replication in GM would help the Mayor achieve his aim of illustrating to the rest of the country how public services delivery can be done in a more joined up and preventative way.