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Supporting those at risk of disadvantage in the Early Years

Unlocking Talent, Fulfilling Potential published by the Department for Education Dec 2017 states:

“Good early years education is the cornerstone of social mobility …Children with strong foundations will start school in a position to progress, but too many children still fall behind early, and it is hard to close the gaps that emerge.”

Data shows that disadvantaged children in West Sussex have not been achieving as well as their peers at any stage in their education. This, coupled with the effects of up to six months outside of formal education due to Covid 19, means it will be more important than ever that we implement robust strategies to enable our disadvantaged children to flourish.

We must have high ambitions for all, remove barriers to learning and reduce the stigma associated with being classed as disadvantaged.

Children who “fall behind” their peers may do so for a number of reasons. Early years practitioners should have an understanding of factors that may lead to delay in the child’s learning and development and take action to minimise the risk.

A key way in which we can help to improve outcomes for children in the early years is to strengthen how we identify, at the earliest opportunity, those children who might not be able to achieve their learning potential. The way in which we can do this is to support those professionals (especially health workers and early years practitioners) who have universal contact with children to be confident in recognising indicators of vulnerability and to know how, and where, to obtain appropriate advice and support. West Sussex County Council developed the Children’s Learning and Well Being Audit (CLaWBA) to support early identification and delay. Children can be vulnerable to delay for a variety of reasons, including previous and current experiences so it is important for settings to build positive, trusting relationships with parents/carers so that families are willing to share information that will inform the practitioners’ support for their child.

It is also imperative that the catch-up funding provided by the Government and the tutoring programme are utilised as effectively as possible to address the disadvantaged children’s attainment gap across all years. This is even more pertinent in early years foundation stage when supporting children to achieving the ‘good level of development’ (GLD) at the end of reception year. Achieving this GLD performance measure means our disadvantaged children will have a far greater chance of keeping up with their peers at every stage of their education.

To support schools with considering disadvantaged children in the early years foundation stage, the school effectiveness team has collated guidance of effective interventions and produced some self-reflection questions to support effective planning and provision for children in early years, available to download from this page- “Turning the Tide- Resources for EY foundation stage”

For further information, please see:

Children’s Learning and Well-being Audit

Last updated 11 August 2021

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