Portsmouth children above national average in development

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CHILDREN in Portsmouth are well prepared for their school life because of good early years development, the city council says.

Figures show that at the age of five, 55 per cent of children achieve a good level of development in Portsmouth compared with 52 per cent nationally.

The assessment looks at personal, social, emotional, language, speaking, listening and maths development.

At the end of reception year, 46 per cent of children eligible for free school meals achieved a good level compared with 36 per cent nationally.

And 52 per cent of the most disadvantaged children achieved a good level compared with 44 per cent nationally.

Catherine Kickham is early support commissioning manager for Portsmouth City Council.

She said: ‘It’s important to give children an early start in life.

‘It’s important to do the best that we can.

‘It’s about them enjoying their opportunities and having a good experience as a child.

‘Throughout the early years the focus is on building on the children’s individual interests and learning through play.

‘Practitioners work closely with parents to build up a picture of the child’s progress, observing the children while playing, talking to them and playing with them.’

Data for all funded children aged between two and four shows that 88 per cent are taking up their place with a registered early years provider, such as pre-schools, nurseries or childminders that are judged by Ofsted as good or outstanding.

Ms Kickham added: ‘Parents have told us that their children’s development has progressed while they’ve been attending an early year provider.

‘Their children have become more confident, more chatty, happy to attend the provider and are making friends.’

The council runs a programme which offers children 15 hours of free early education, allowing parents to return to training or work or increase their working hours.

Across Hampshire County Council, 59 per cent of children achieve a good level of development at the age of five.