ST Helens Council has been awarded more than £150,000 by the Department for Education to help support the development of early years children in the borough.

The council has been successful in a bid for money from the DfE’s Professional Development Fund.

A delegated decision has now been taken by the council to grant permission to accept £150,600 from the fund.

The money will be used to help facilitate delivery of professional development to early years practitioners in pre-reception settings.

A delegated decision notice says the percentage of children achieving a good level of development continues to increase in St Helens.

In 2018, 69 per cent of children achieved good level of development. This is an increase of two per cent on 2017, but below comparable national averages (71.5 per cent).

Additionally, 68 per cent of children educated in St Helens in 2018 achieved the expected standard or above in all early learning goals.

This is an increase on the previous year (65 per cent) but is also below the comparable national average of 70 per cent.

“Analysis suggests that current systems need reviewing in order to improve the children’s outcomes in communication and language in the borough,” the delegated decision notice says.

“At the end of Reception year almost 22 per cent of children have not achieved the expected level for communication and language and 30 per cent have not reached this in literacy.

“Teachers report that children on entry to Reception year often have poor listening skills and no phonological awareness.”

The notice says that, should the funding be pulled due to a change of government, then the project cease.