Sure Start not working as well as it should, says government

Sure Start is not reaching some of the most disadvantaged families and is not working as well as it should in some areas, the government admitted today as it published early evaluation of the scheme and new practice guidance.

The evaluation found  “small – but discernible – positive effects, such as fewer behavioural problems and better social skills for the vast majority of children,” according to the Department for Education and Skills.
“For most parents in programme areas, there are measurable improvements in parenting,” the evaluation has reported.

“Sure Start is a great success, but as the report suggests, we must make sure that its benefits reach everyone who needs them, particularly the disadvantaged,” said education secretary Ruth Kelly.

“The new guidance will help ensure best practice becomes common practice in all programmes, not just the majority. One of the most successful ways some Sure Start programmes have reached the most disadvantaged families is through outreach and home visiting. There will be greater emphasis on this in local programmes that have not been doing enough of this in the past,” she continued.

The guidance, said the Dfes in a statement, will lead to “improved multi-agency working”, making services “more attractive to families.” There will be a  “greater focus on delivering evidence based programmes.”

National Evaluation of Sure Start reports

Sure Start practice guidance

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