Agenda item

Early Years Strategy

Report of the Director of Children’s Services


The Board considered a briefing note of the Director of Children’s Services regarding the Early Years Strategy.


In England a child’s progress was reviewed between the age of 2 and 3 and again at the end of the school year in which they turn 5.  The teachers judgement was used to assess the child’s attainment against 17 Early Learning Goals (ELG’s) covering 7 areas of learning.


Achievement of some of the 17 goals at the ‘expected level’, lead to a child meeting an indicator called a ‘Good Level of Development (GLD)’.  This was a national indicator of whether a child was ready for school, even through the assessment took place at the end of the Reception year.


In 2021, the Early Learning goals changed however, they continued to be a measure of attainment, not progress.  Local Authority moderation of the data, was no longer a statutory requirement and along with the impact of Covid-19, the data for 2022 was not comparable with previous datasets.


The changes included:


·  Revisions to strengthen all areas of learning with new educational programmes that set out what children must experience and learn about.

·  Revisions to all 17 ELG’s across the 7 areas of learning to make these more precise.

·  Revised text to make it easier to understand what was required for a child to be working at the expected level of development and to link more closely with Key Stage one curriculum.

·  Removal of ‘exceeding’ assessment band.


The school readiness local position showed that:


·  Overall achievement of a Good Level of Development in Coventry was 61.2% compared to the national average of 65.2%. The higher gap to national for the area of communication and language may suggest children in Coventry had been affected by the impact of Covid-19 to a greater extent than other children nationally.  Compared to the West Midlands, Children in Coventry were not achieving as well as their peers, where achievement of GLD was 63.7%.

·  Data for groups showed the positive impact of approaches to ‘SEND support’ in the early years with outcomes were significantly above national performance.  Children supported by an education and health care plan also achieved slightly above national outcomes.  Those with an identified SEND need related to communication and language need, achieved above average.

·  The outcomes for children looked after by the Local Authority appeared to be of significant strength however, the cohort size was small.

·  Programmes of support were in place to further support disadvantaged groups and White British Boys, where outcomes were lower than national.

·  Outcomes for children for whom English was not their first language, were slightly below national average.

·  Appendix 1 detailed examples of activity in response to data, links to Early Years Strategy and new opportunities to continue to improve School Readiness.


The Coventry Early Years Strategy:  Every Child, Every Chance, Every Day, developed in November 2020 was built around the Marmot Review Priority Objectives for 2020.  Extracts from the Leadsom Report 2021 were also incorporated into the Strategy which was then published in September 2021 alongside 4 Service Area plans.  Revised mapping of available services and support for children and families from birth to 5 years was completed across the city.  In March 2022 a review of progress was undertaken and over the last 9 months, delivery of actions had continued the next step being to monitor progress more closely and implement outcomes.


Coventry’s Marmot Action Plan was being refreshed to address potentially widening health inequalities as part of Coventry’s post Covid-19 recovery and work was taking place with partners to collate programmes of work and activities.  On behalf of the Marmot Partnership, the Public Health Inequalities team were working in partnership with the Senior Adviser for Early Years and partners to capture the work to reduce health inequalities.  By February 2023, a final draft of the Marmot action plan would be presented to the Partnership and the Health and Wellbeing Board.


Over the past 5 years, the number of Early Years and Reception Year children with additional needs had increased significantly.  This was partly due to the impact of Covid-19.  The Saplings Programme complemented the existing SEND provision by enhancing the local offer to children who needed extra help during their Reception Year and these children spend part of their time learning in the Saplings Base at Little Heath Primary School. 


In Autumn term 2022, 33 children were referred to the programme, 18 of which were identified as appropriate for the intervention.  These children came from 15 different schools, between 1 and 6 miles from the Saplings Base.


The Members asked questions and received responses on a number of matters including:


·  Work undertaken through the strategy on social interaction and language development to assist the increasing number of children with SEN.

·  Rolling out the ’50 things’ app to ensure a robust universal offer including interactions with family hubs and outreach locations, upskilling practitioners and training a further 20 staff in Portage (pre SEN support).

·  Impact of the Saplings Programme and regular evaluation of the programme.

·  The impact of Covid leaving a legacy of children impacted by family trauma and adverse childhood experiences affecting emotional and social wellbeing.

·  Training and workforce development.  With the Early Years sector, staff turnover was high.  There was a focus on quality and building sufficiency.

·  Children being taught to use technology and internet safety within the Early Years curriculum.

·  Early Years staff training was rolled out face to face, hybrid, online and via webinars.  Designated Safeguarding Lead training had traditionally been face to face however, was currently online due to supply staff shortages.

·  The issue of white British boys underachieving and programmes of support being in place.

·  The Best Start in Life Programme.

·  Internal data on children who had not been to school or had fallen behind was used to target resources effectively.


The Board recognised, commended and thanked officers for the work they continued to do in challenging circumstances to improve the education outcomes for the children of Coventry.


RESOLVED that the Board:


1.  Note the 2022 dataset for pupils aged 5 in Coventry schools


2.  Note the progress of the Early Years Strategy, within the context of Covid-19 and be aware of new opportunities to address identified concerns related to school readiness.


3.  Note the progress in relation to the Marmot Review and initiation of the Saplings Programme.


4.  Requests a report to be brought back to SB2 in the 2023/24 Municipal Year regarding the Best Start in Life Programme and the Early years Saplings Programme be added to the Work Programme in 2023/24.


Supporting documents: