New approach aims to give Renfrewshire children ‘best start’ in life

Children and families in Renfrewshire are set to benefit from a new £6.8million

family-centred approach aimed at giving disadvantaged children the best start in life.

Renfrewshire’s Early Years strategy will boost the life chances of children by improving early education and supporting their families on a range of issues which have a direct impact on the youngsters’ ability to learn and develop their potential.

That could involve helping the child’s parents to find employment, obtain advice on finance or debt problems, or tackle health problems.

Other measures will include social work and health visitor support, additional support before and after the school day involving breakfast clubs and wraparound care.

There will be also increased access to early years’ teachers who will have a focus on improving learning and teaching, particularly in the transition from nursery to primary school.

Two pilot programmes will be developed later this year with bases in Ferguslie and Linwood. Those will be supported by outreach programmes for parents across Renfrewshire.

The focus of both will be on children of nursery school age and in the first three years of primary school.

Another part of the programme will target families with older children who are living in deprivation.

“There’s increasing realisation that children’s chances of maximising their personal and educational attainment are directly affected by their family’s circumstances,” said Councillor Jacqueline Henry, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Education Policy Board.

“What the council  developing a partnership approach to make available help and support to families from a range of public and voluntary agencies so that their children can get the best start in life.

“We want to make that practical assistance easily accessible to parents so that they can improve their family’s circumstances which will in turn remove or lessen the social, economic or health issues which are limiting their children’s chances.

“Far too many families in Renfrewshire experience deprivation – with all the problems that brings for them and their communities.  Almost a fifth of Renfrewshire children live in poverty. It affects us all if future generations are locked into another cycle of disadvantage and missed opportunities.”

Councillor Stuart Clark, Depute Convener of the council’s Education Policy Board, said:  “The Early Years strategy is further evidence of Renfrewshire Council’s commitment to education.  In our recent budget we protected the education service.

“We are the first council in Scotland to introduce free meals in holiday periods for those who qualify for free meals in nursery or the early years of primary school.

“Now, even in these very difficult financial times, the council is investing £4.2m towards the total £6.8m cost of this new approach to provide disadvantaged children and families with the support they need and deserve.”

Renfrewshire Council’s Early Years strategy will be in place as children start the new school year in August.