Newham lauded for the educational achievement of its five year olds

9 August 2017 in Education and Mayor and Young people
​​Newham’s young residents doing as well as those in richer areas across the country​.
Newham’s approach to tackling social mobility and supporting the attainment of disadvantaged children has been praised in a report by a leading independent research organisation.

The Education Policy Institute (EPI) has published its findings into social mobility and the attainment of disadvantaged children across the country. The EPI is an impartial and evidence-based research institute which aims to promote high quality education outcomes, regardless of social background.

The report titled ‘Closing the Gap’ highlights  there is no gap between the attainment of the borough’s disadvantaged and non disadvantaged five year olds. In addition, those children who are deemed to be disadvantaged in the borough perform as well as non-disadvantaged five year olds nationally.

The findings are based on Early Years Foundation Stage Framework (EYFS) results. The EYFS framework sets the standards all early years providers must meet to ensure  children learn and develop well, are kept healthy and safe and have the knowledge and skills they need to start school.

Children are deemed to have obtained a good level of development if they are achieving the ‘expected’ level or ‘exceeding’ the early learning goals in all key areas. These  are communication and language, physical development, personal social and emotional development as well as literacy and maths.

Newham’s EYFS results in 2016 were 72.5 per cent compared to 69 per cent nationally. This year, its results are 75 per cent, compared to 70 per cent across the country.

A key part in the successes is the borough’s approach to delivering early years education and support. The council has worked  with its partners to improve the quality of nursery and childcare provision for children between 0-five.

The early years offer for 0-four has also been restructured, integrating childcare, children’s centres and early years’ health provision (midwifery and health visiting) into the new Best Start in Life (BSiL) programme. The programme has five strands:
  • 15 hours of free eligible childcare, with this increasing to 30 hours when the Government’s proposals are rolled out
  • regular Stay and Play sessions every week in each Community Neighbourhood area
  • programmes, workshops and sessions offering evidence-based advice and guidance to improve parenting capacity in each neighbourhood
  • regular employment advice sessions will be available in each neighbourhood;
  • in each neighbourhood, a range of family health and development sessions including: antenatal support; the transition to parenthood; the early weeks of life; perinatal wellbeing; breastfeeding initiation; health weight and nutrition; managing minor ailments and reducing accidents; and supporting speech and language development.
A number of systems have also been introduced to identify those children who may have special educational needs or require extra support.

The EPI report also highlighted that there are persistent gaps in attainment between pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds and their peers and these gaps grow throughout schooling. The EPI noted  that between 2007 and 2016 the attainment gap by the end of primary school narrowed by 2.8 months, and the gap by age five by 1.2 months.

The report estimated that by the end of secondary school, pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds were 19 months behind their peers, at current rates, it will take 50 years for the attainment gap to close completely by the time pupils take their GCSEs  and more needed to be done by government and local authorities to close this gap.

Sir Robin Wales, Mayor of Newham, said: “The disadvantage gap has been entrenched in our nation’s education system for generations. Our approach is about breaking this cycle and ensuring  all our young people, whatever their background, have the opportunity to succeed and fulfil their potential.

“The evidence proves our methods are working and our universal offers – Best Start in Life, free school meals, The Reading Guarantee and ECAM are truly making a difference in in narrowing the attainment gap.

“Our results continue to improve year on year with three quarters of our children at Early Years Foundation Stage achieving a good level of development, well above the national average. Seventy per cent of our children at Key Stage 1 are achieving the expected level in all three areas of reading, writing, and mathematics, above the national average and we have continued our fantastic performance at Key Stage Two, with results up another five percent on last year.”