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Email: press.office@naht.org.uk 

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NAHT responds to report calling for new investment in Sure Start

Responding to a new report by the Child of the North and the Centre for Young Lives think tank, which calls for schools to be at the centre of a ‘fresh start for Sure Start’, Paul Whiteman general secretary at school leaders’ union NAHT, said:

“Severe cuts to funding for Sure Start amid the impact of austerity on community services has left children without vital early support with their development and challenges in their lives.

“There is strong evidence that Sure Start had a positive impact on the lives of children and families and the decision to effectively scrap the programme was a huge mistake.

“Schools increasingly see the effect on pupils’ learning, behaviour and attendance as problems escalate unchecked - be it the impact of poverty, domestic abuse or mental ill-health.

“But they are not equipped to tackle the root causes of these issues alone, and the government’s new family hubs, while welcome, do not come near to replicating the Sure Start network which has been gradually dismantled over the last decade.

“Many schools already offer services like breakfast clubs, and we welcome this report’s recognition that any major extension of such provision will require additional investment and support for schools because it would not be sustainable to expect existing staff to do more.

“A revitalised Sure Start style programme could help ensure children and families get the support they need early on, setting them up to go on and be successful in school.”

First published 10 May 2024