We passionately believe that the best way to tackle deep-rooted inequalities and give children the opportunity to fulfil their potential is by working alongside all the people associated with a place, including families, schools, charities, service providers and philanthropists.
A pioneering programme that brings people and organisations together to tackle inequalities is expanding across the Liverpool City Region after partners agreed to support its expansion.
Following the success of a pilot project in North Birkenhead, the groundbreaking Cradle to Career initiative is to be extended to other parts of Merseyside and Halton.
In 2019, SHINE worked alongside the Steve Morgan Foundation, Wirral Council and place-based change charity Right to Succeed to introduce Cradle to Career North Birkenhead.
Cradle to Career brings together schools, residents, local services, professionals, and community leaders to support the children and young people of the North End of Birkenhead, on the Wirral, Merseyside.
Education is central to the Cradle to Career model, with a particular focus on improving literacy. Its “place-based” approach puts the people of the North End at the heart of education, services, and local decision-making, working together in the long term to create real, lasting change and enable children growing up there to reach their full potential.
Three years in, the programme is already making a difference. For instance, the reading ability of 1,670 pupils in Years 5 to 10 who were 15 months behind the national average in 2021 increased significantly to bring them in line with the national average by the summer of 2023.
And there has been a significant reduction in referrals to social care.
SHINE, the Steve Morgan Foundation and other partners have now committed fresh funding to ensure the continuation of Cradle to Career North Birkenhead.
We have also invested significantly in the extension of the Cradle to Career programme, which has been made possible thanks to an additional investment of £5.25m by Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region.
SHINE’s contribution of an additional £1m takes our total investment in Cradle to Career to approximately £1.34m. Funding provided by the Steve Morgan Foundation totals £4.9m, which includes a grant of £2.5m to support the regional expansion.
Following discovery phases in Halton and Knowsley, bespoke programmes are being developed for communities in Halton Lea and Northwood. These will focus on supporting vulnerable learners; reducing the number of post-16 school leavers not in education, employment or training; developing robust facilities and activities for all; and creating a family support hub to support social, emotional and mental wellbeing in the community.
Further discovery phases are currently underway in Sefton and St Helens, with a vision to continue expansion across all six boroughs of the Liverpool City Region.
SHINE’s chair Raksha Pattni said: “Potential is everywhere but opportunity is not. Inequalities, which begin even before a child is born, often have nothing to do with ability or talent and much more to do with where a child grows up and the barriers they face during the first 18 years of their lives.
“We passionately believe that the best way to tackle these deep-rooted inequalities and give children the opportunity to fulfil their potential is by working alongside all the people associated with a place, including families, schools, charities, service providers and philanthropists.
“By bringing people together and drawing on this wealth of shared local knowledge, resources and experience, we can more effectively identify and break down the barriers faced by families in these communities.
“The early results of Cradle to Career are very promising, but if the impact is to be lasting, this needs to be a long-term initiative, which is why we have committed to extending the North Birkenhead project, while at the same time supporting the roll-out across the wider city region.
“We are hugely excited by the potential of Cradle to Career and other place-based projects to improve the life chances of children and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, and we hope to see many more similar initiatives across the North in future years.
“This programme shows the power of partnership. It demonstrates what can be achieved when schools, charities, the public sector, philanthropists, and other key organisations work hand-in-hand with local communities, responding to their specific needs. SHINE is proud to be playing a key role in making this happen.”
Steve Morgan CBE said: “We are incredibly excited to be taking this powerful partnership across the breadth of the Liverpool City Region.
“Good philanthropy and great partnerships are about bringing everyone together to deliver long-lasting and effective change, and Cradle to Career is a true exemplar of this; empowering communities, philanthropy and the public sector to work towards a shared vision to improve the lives of young people and their families.
“The Steve Morgan Foundation is involved in hundreds of initiatives not only in Merseyside but across the country but the impact of Cradle to Career is one of our most successful interventions and its achievements cannot be underestimated.
“In just two years, through Cradle to Career, the reading age for more than 1,600 children has improved exponentially; the number of young people at risk of being taken into care has significantly reduced, and Ofsted and the CQC are using the Cradle to Career programme as an example of best practice for family support.
“It is my hope that other cities and other regions in the UK will consider following suit by doing things differently and putting communities in control of their destinies.”
Mayor Steve Rotheram said: “It is a gross injustice that children’s whole lives are mapped out before they ever leave the maternity unit; a postcode lottery dictating their bank balance, the food they can afford, the diseases they’re likely to develop, the quality of the air they will breathe and how long they will live.
We are hugely excited by the potential of Cradle to Career and other place-based projects to improve the life chances of children and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and we hope to see many more similar initiatives across the North in future years.
“Addressing that imbalance is central to my politics. Cradle to Career is a radical, bespoke approach that works with the communities to identify local issues – and empowers them to come up with the solutions.
“Its results in North Birkenhead have been so impressive that we are investing more than £5m to roll it out across the rest of the region. Too many kids in our region have been held back, not by a lack of talent but a lack of opportunity – but I’m working to put that right.”
CEO of Right to Succeed, Graeme Duncan added: “We are delighted that the Combined Authority has decided to fund the rollout of collective impact programmes across the Liverpool City Region, helping to realise our vision that every child can thrive from Cradle to Career.
“Our experience working in North Birkenhead on the Cradle to Career programme over the last three years has shown that by putting the decision-making power in the hands of the community and bringing people together around shared aims, you can accelerate the pace of change for children and young people.
“By rolling this out across the region, the Combined Authority is taking the lead, investing in a new approach that will see sustained change and improved outcomes for more children and young people.”