Sure Start is failing to improve children’s lives

Sure Start as a whole has failed to improve outcomes for children it was revealed in leaked findings from the programme’s national evaluation this week.
The evaluation found that while some Sure Start programmes were having a positive effect overall the initiative had failed to improve children’s development, language and behaviour.
It also showed that children of teenage mothers did worse in Sure Start areas than in other places.
Phil Osborne, head of the early years and childcare service at Surrey Council, said that Sure Start was bound to produce a range of results due to being structured differently in each area in response to local needs.
“Because of the nature of the way it’s set up it’s not surprising that there’s a lack of consistency,” he added.
Edward Melhuish, a professor at Birkbeck College in London, and head of the evaluation team, said that not all of the findings in the report, which is due out in October, were negative.
The researchers did not compare children who were actually in Sure Start programmes’ progress. Instead they looked at how well children who lived in Sure Start areas, some of whom had never been involved with the initiative, were doing compared to children living in equally deprived parts of the country.
Another report from the evaluation team, also due out in October, is likely to say Sure Start should not have been targeted on the basis of age or geographical boundaries.

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