Project that will see schools working closer with parents will ‘make a huge difference to lots of little lives’ 

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Hundreds of youngsters across Greater Manchester and Merseyside are to take part in a project that will give parents the confidence to support their children’s development at home.

The Vantage Academy Trust of nine schools around Manchester, Salford, Bolton, and Knowsley, has received a grant of more than £42,000 from education charity SHINE to fund the initiative.

Over two years, a series of informal events, including coffee mornings and stay-and-play workshops, will be held for parents and carers of early years children at the trust’s schools – Knowsley Lane, Knowsley, Gorton, Manchester, SS Simon & Jude, Bolton, St Barnabas, Manchester, St Hilda’s, Trafford, Willow Tree, Knowsley, St Paul’s, Salford, St James’, Manchester and St Augustine’s, Salford.

These sessions are designed to help the school build stronger relationships with parents while providing bite-sized information to support their child’s communication and language skills.

Meanwhile, nine “school-home hubs” will be established, each operating as a community learning support group for pupils and families with the highest needs.

The hubs will deliver family learning courses and drop-in sessions for families. It is hoped they will allow the schools to build more open relationships with parents and help to break down any barriers.

A new website will also be developed that will include video clips and fact sheets, containing simple tips and advice, to help build parents’ confidence.

It is hoped the programme will help children make the move from early years into primary school, and ultimately result in increased attainment.

Emma Dilworth, Acting Principal, Willow Tree Primary, said: “We recognise and value the role that parents play in supporting our work and this is an amazing opportunity to build such strong bonds. We are very grateful to SHINE for supporting us in this venture to make a huge difference to lots of little lives.

As a school, we know what a positive impact working with our families can have on everyone involved - parents, children, and school staff alike. We are very excited to get going on our project and watch our families 'shine’.

Kirsty Simmons Early Years Lead, St Hilda’s Primary, Trafford

Leesha Jones, Early Years Lead, Gorton Primary, said: “We are so excited to be a part of the SHINE project at Gorton Primary school. The project will allow us time and resources to build relationships and knowledge as well as sharing fun, memorable learning opportunities for our children and parents to share and cherish.”

Kirsty Simmons, Early Years Lead, St Hilda’s Primary, said: “As a school, we know what a positive impact working with our families can have on everyone involved – parents, children, and school staff alike. We are very excited to get going on our project and watch our families ‘shine’.”

Kristen Williams, Assistant Principal, Willow Tree Primary, said: “What a huge privilege it is to be selected to take part in the SHINE project. We all know that parents and carers are the children’s first educators, so it is critically important that they understand what and how we teach at school so they can continue this learning in the home. We are buzzing with ideas and can’t wait to get started!”

Simon Bramwell, CEO at Vantage Academy Trust, said: “Parental engagement is a cornerstone of the work our staff do across our outstanding group of schools, to build relationships with families that last throughout their child’s primary years and beyond.

“At Vantage, one of our core values is to remove the limits of possibility for ourselves, one another, and our community. Our new SHINE at Vantage programme works to achieve this by creating opportunities for practitioners to work with both children and parents together to discover more about the seven core areas of early development, complemented by resources that families can access at home.

“We are very excited to see what we can achieve for our children, working together.”

Helen Rafferty, Acting CEO of SHINE, said: “We are so excited to be supporting this innovative and brilliant programme. We know that when schools, parents and communities work together, the impact on children can be transformative, and we are very much looking forward to seeing the students in the trust thrive as they move through their education.”