NEARLY 1,000 Cumbrian children from low-income families could be helped to fulfil their education potential following the announcement of new government funding.
Three-and four-year-olds are to benefit from a new £50 million fund helping to prevent them falling behind before they have even started school.
The Early Years Pupil Premium, worth over £300 per pupil, means that Cumbria will receive more than £286,000 in additional funding.
According to research, children from low-income families are estimated to already be 19 months behind more advantaged peers when they start school.
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High quality early education can close this gap and improve results later on in life, said the Department of Education.
Nurseries will have freedom to decide how to use the money, for example, by employing more qualified staff or specialists in activities like speech and language to give an extra focus on basic skills.
“I know that the funds will give local young people the chance to learn and hopefully open many doors and make a massive difference,” said Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron.
“Education is the essential investment in a young person's life - we need to make sure we allow every child to reach their full potential and I know that this funding is a step in the right direction.”
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: “Every child in Cumbria deserves the chance to fulfil their potential, and this extra funding is a boost to help our youngest children get on in life and succeed.”
Schools Minister David Laws added: “The pupil premium is about helping schools to help all pupils succeed – regardless of background.”
Education and Childcare Minister Elizabeth Truss said: “We know it’s a challenge to close the attainment gap later on but with the introduction of the Early Years Pupil Premium we hope it will prevent this gap from emerging in the first place.”