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Early years work is giving children the best start in life

A review into children’s early development services in Wigan Borough has found that staff are enthusiastic, committed and passionate about supporting families.

Wigan Council is the first authority in the country to have a peer review into its Early Years services after it was asked to pilot a new programme launched by the Department for Education and the Local Government Association (LGA).

The Early Years and Social Mobility peer review programme aims to close the gaps in the development of young children, focusing on key early language and literacy skills, so that all children can begin school ready to thrive.

It has been a strong ambition for Wigan to increase school readiness so all children can have the best start in life.

A peer review team visited Wigan in July to meet with families, visit early years and childcare settings and to interview staff and partners. Inspectors looked at integration and partnership, speech and language and the early years process, access and quality of education services.

Inspectors said they were “impressed by the range of effective early years practice” and they found “enthusiastic and dedicated staff who talked about their services with passion”.

The review also picked up on the positive impact The Deal has had saying it has “established a positive culture and language…and allowed staff to be creative and innovate”.

Through The Deal they said there was a “culture of continuous improvement to achieve aspirations”. Last year Wigan Council’s children’s services were rated Good by Ofsted.

A peer review is a tool used by council’s to improve services. They will commission an independent team to spend time at the council to provide challenge and share learning.

The team also suggested a number of things that the council can consider to further improve services but said it had built strong foundations to continue this work.

Councillor Jenny Bullen, cabinet member for children and young people, said: “We are really pleased with the outcome of the review and are proud to be a pilot for the programme which will drive up national standards.

“Our children’s services have been on a huge journey in the last few years with many of our services transformed by reassessing how we approach what we do through The Deal.

“We are very ambitious about continuing to improve the quality and effectiveness of how we do things so that every child gets the best start in life.

“We are pleased the review team picked up on the positive impact of programmes such as Start Well, and how integrating services and professionals is making a difference. It is also recognition for our staff from across the partnership who work tirelessly to support our children and families.”

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