Friday, 4 September 2015

Improving Opportunities for the Next Generation

I have always thought the best way to promote social mobility is to make sure every child has access to a good education tailored to that child’s individual needs. We have some brilliant schools in Camborne, Redruth & Hayle and the A Level and GCSE results which came out last month show that they are going from strength to strength.

We also have some brilliant extra-curricular projects in the constituency which take place over the summer and are aimed at teaching young people life-skills and helping them to build their confidence. For eleven year olds about to start secondary school, Hayle School participates in CampFirst which runs a two week summer camp, allowing participants to get to know their future classmates before the start of term, while the Get On Track Project, run by the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust deploys retired Olympians to help mentor and inspire young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and uses sport to teach life skills such as team work and problem solving.

We cannot forget however, that the first three years of a child's life are the most formative and have a crucial impact on a child's life chances.  Many primary school head teachers tell me they have noticed a growing trend in the last twenty years of children arriving in reception class with language difficulties and, however much effort those schools put in, those children start at a disadvantage. 

The other week I visited the Gooseberry Bush Nursery at Rosmellin. Run by Gill Smith, the Gooseberry Bush stresses the importance of play based learning in developing basic communication skills so children can build relationships with one another.  The government has been increasing free nursery care for two and three year olds and the Gooseberry Bush have been piloting a new programme of early intervention based on rediscovering the importance of traditional play.  They are getting some really positive early results which proves that, in those first few years, it’s not about forcing academic learning ever younger but instead just about encouraging child's play.