As data reveals school readiness among Bedford children is below the national average, a new scheme has been unveiled to help youngsters play catch-up following the pandemic.
Nick Jr and Blue’s Clues & You! have partnered with the National Literacy Trust to run Early Words Together programmes in the town.
It’s aimed at supporting children’s education recovery from the lockdown as well as improving parents’ confidence to help their child’s language and literacy development at home.
Families are taking part in five-week cycles – and a further 20 early years settings in Bedford will receive free Blue’s Clues & You! activity guides.
Elstow’s The Ladybirds nursery is delivering the programmes this week.
Bedford was selected as Department for Education data showed school readiness in the town falls below the national average, with 30% of five-year-olds not achieving the expected level of development in literacy and communication and language. The figure rises to 49% for children eligible to receive free school meals.
Kirsty Cunnington, programme manager for early years at the National Literacy Trust, said: “The Early Years Foundation Stage Profile data collected in 2019 showed there was a need to help support young children’s school readiness in Bedford.
“The pandemic has exacerbated that issue for local families, with young children’s early years’ vocabulary and social development hit particularly hard and jeopardising their future development for decades to come.
“During this difficult time, parents and carers in Bedford have been unable to access key support networks that can give them the confidence and knowledge to create a strong home learning environment.
“The Early Words Together programme is dedicated to reaching and supporting parents and carers to create an engaging and lively home learning space and giving them the knowledge and skills to confidently help young children overcome the obstacles of the last two years.”