Big rise in Norfolk pre-schoolers meeting key government target

Little Smiles preschool group, Lakenham. Photo : Steve Adams

Little Smiles preschool group, Lakenham. Photo : Steve Adams - Credit: Archant

The number of pre-school children in Norfolk reaching a good level of development has risen dramatically in the past two years, according to new government data.

In 2013, only 46pc of children in the county met the key government standard, but that number jumped to 65pc in 2014-15.

The increase outstripped improvements seen across England as a whole, with the county narrowing the gap with the national average from 6 percentage points to just 1.3 percentage points.

Sam Dunn, who runs Silly Smiles childminding and Little Smiles pre-school in Norwich, said she was pleased by the signs of progress in Norfolk.

She added: 'When I talk to other nursery owners and childminders, our local authority is a lot better than a lot of others in sharing information.'

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The government defines 'a good level of development' as children reaching at least the expected level in personal, social and emotional development, communication and language, physical development, literacy and maths.

Girls in Norfolk outperformed boys by 15.7 percentage points - in line with the national average.

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James Joyce, chairman of the Children's Services Committee at Norfolk County Council, said: 'This continued improvement by Norfolk's five-year-olds is good news and highlights the continued focus on delivering the very best education for children in the county.

'Schools and settings have a number of Discovery Cafes as well as a Story Café which have proved a huge success with children and parents alike. These, as well as improvements in training and the implantation of more accurate assessments, have helped to accomplish the improved levels of achievement.'

He said that, to get well above the national average, schools and settings needed to continue improving the attainment of boys, and added: 'We also need to continue to develop and promote motivation, engagement, creativity and critical thinking for all children of this age.'

Asked when parents could do to help their child's development, Mr Joyce recommended showing in interest in what their children are interested in.

He said: 'Simple things can make an enormous difference to a child's development and learning. This includes doing things such as going for walks together discovering new things, talking with their children and listening to their ideas, sharing books from the library, communicating with their child's school about their child's interests, and by showing a positive attitude to school and learning.'

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