Project aims to boost early years learning in Holt and Sheringham areas
A project aimed at boosting the early years learning of under fives has been launched at a north Norfolk children's centre.
The scheme is seeking to reverse a downward trend seen in test results in the Holt and Sheringham area, and will stress the importance of parents in their youngsters' early education.
It got off to a fun start at the weekend, with a family activity morning held at Corpusty and Holt Sure Start Children's Centre.
But it was sparked by a local drop in language, literacy and communication development goals, with many children failing to achieve the expected levels by the end of their first year at primary school.
Centre co-ordinator Becky Marshall, said: 'When we saw the latest results, we decided we needed to do something to turn this around.'
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The Charles Road centre has been holding regular meetings with nurseries, pre-schools and primary schools in Sheringham, Holt, Kelling and Corpusty, coming up with an action plan aimed at getting parents and carers more involved in under fives' education and easing the transition from pre-school to primary school.
'One of the key things is engaging parents and letting them know how important they are to their children's early education, so we will also be working with the health team to make sure that those parents who don't usually access services can become involved,' Ms Marshall said.
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Each of the learning providers involved will be running their own project, ranging from story cafes and craft sessions at the children's centre, to parents' stay-and-play sessions and coffee mornings at Holt Primary School.
The centre will also be teaming up with the national Bookstart programme, which has provided funding for staff to offer one-to-one support sessions to parents in their own homes.
'In a lot of instances, the project will just be about co-ordinating and bolstering existing activities, but the main thing is that we are all co-operating effectively to engage with parents and talk to them about the small things they can do at home to give their children a good start in their school career,' Ms Marshall said.
Holt Primary School acting head teacher Simon Walters said the project aimed to provide a twin-pronged approach to improving early years attainment levels.
'It is a two-way process. It is about getting young children more aware of primary schools, but it is also getting teachers into pre-schools to work alongside their practitioners to make the transit from pre to primary school as smooth as possible,' he said.
'We recognise that the partnership with parents is vital, so if we can establish this before the children start school, then we are up and flying.'
Saturday's launch event included attractions ranging from a story and music tent, a nature teepee and graffiti painting, to oats, foam and spaghetti messy play and parents' and children's Nintendo Wii sessions.
Staff also laid on healthy snacks and handed out leaflets giving tips on how parents could help improve their youngsters' communication skills.
To find out more about activity sessions being run by Corpusty and Holt Sure Start Children's Centre, phone 01263 712442.