I have been Involved with Flying Start since the beginning of the bid process for the Big Lottery funding. Through working with colleagues from a range of teams, organisations and disciplines it is apparent that no one team or service has all of the answers – or all of the responsibility for improving outcomes.
Of the three main objectives of Flying Start the main priority for the Early Years team is improving babies’ and young children’s communication and language skills. I work with an excellent team of early years consultants who share my commitment to improving outcomes for young children through working with Children’s Centres, childcare providers and schools.
The introduction of the free childcare entitlement for disadvantaged two year olds has been an important focus for the team who have worked with Children’s Centres to promote uptake of places and providers to promote high quality provision. This year funded 2 year olds made good progress in many areas including Understanding and Speaking, helping to improve their chances of reaching the expected standards by the end of the Early Years Foundation Stage.
Outcomes for children at the end of the Early Years Foundation Stage (when children are 5) have improved year on year in Luton but still fewer children in Luton reach the expected standard than children nationally. This gap continues to reduce, indicating that the strategies in place are working, but there is still much more to do. All Luton children deserve to have the best provision so that they can thrive and reach their potential. I look forward to continuing to work with colleagues across Luton who share this ambition and have the passion to find ways to improve the outcomes and life chances of our youngest children.