Children 'more enthusiastic and confident' after summer programmes in Northumberland

Youngsters ‘returned to school enthused, more confident and full of stories’ after successful summer programmes in Northumberland last year.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 10 July, 2019, 15:19
County Hall, Morpeth.

Northumberland County Council led a pilot of targeted provision in 2018, funded by the Department for Education via Children North East, with a focus on food and enrichment for children entitled to free school meals.

It was delivered in Blyth and Hadston, using the 4x4x4 model (four weeks of four days, each four hours long).

A report to the authority’s family and children’s services committee revealed that of the 120 children involved last summer, 90 per cent attended 100 per cent of the time.

It says: ‘Children returned to school enthused, more confident, and full of stories.

‘At mid-term headteachers continued to report children notably more confident, higher level of engagement, more trust of adults, more willingness to try new things, increased confidence and in several cases some astounding efforts such as becoming class representative, less phone calls home to parents, reduced aggression, and more care taken with peers and behaviour choices.’

The report adds that ‘aside from positive feedback from children and young people, which was plentiful, parents became increasingly engaged, and were keen to support the development of further activity and provision’.

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Director of education Dean Jackson said: “It’s been highly successful, with long-term impacts, and we are looking at funding to see if we can take it forward.”

Money has been secured from a mixture of sources which means that the council will continue to deliver provision from 2019 to 2021, which will include a year-long external evaluation in partnership with University of Newcastle.

This summer’s provision will be offered to 90 children in Blyth and 50 in Red Row, with activity groups of up to 15 children supported by a key worker and two young leaders.

The weekly programme includes physical activity, life skills, bushcraft, a trip, and breakfast and lunch, working with partners such as Hadston House and Briardale House community centres.

Elsewhere, Choppington and Seaton Delaval are hoping to offer skeleton provision this summer, while some early scoping outreach work is planned for Newbiggin-by-the Sea.

The CELL villages (Cresswell, Ellington, Lynemouth and Linton) are also developing something for the coming school holidays.