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10,000 free books for children in Wales’ most disadvantaged communities

The Welsh Government has announced new funding to provide 10,000 free books to children living in the most disadvantaged parts of Wales 

Deputy Minister for Tackling Poverty Vaughan Gething has revealed that children living in Flying Start areas will benefit from free books to help continued learning at home. Each book bag will contain a bilingual and an English language book, a set of crayons and a scribble pad.

Flying Start aims to make a decisive difference to the lives of children under the age of four and their families in the most deprived communities. It offers parents free quality childcare for 2-3 year olds, parenting support, an enhanced health visitor service and help for early language development.

A key part of Flying Start is developing a child’s language. The extra books will allow health visitors to highlight to parents the importance of reading with their children to improve their language development.

The books, costing £100,000, will be available from this month and will be in addition to those provided by the Welsh Government backed Bookstart programme, which gives free bilingual book packs to every child in Wales at nine-months and two-years old.

Vaughan Gething said:

“A child’s early language skills are hugely important to their later learning outcomes and their life chances. The link between home reading and a child’s future achievement is well known and that is why we are funding these extra books for children in Flying Start areas.  Research shows that a pupil’s reading scores are higher and improve more quickly in families who are engaged in reading activities at home. Promoting the impact that parents have in helping their children learn at home is important for both the child's learning journey and parental aspiration. We know that a number of parents return to education and training as a result of being engaged in their child's learning.

“Flying Start coordinators on the ground have told us how useful these books are in engaging parents to help their children read and learn. This approach is central to our work to make sure all children, no matter where they are born, have the right start in life and the same opportunities as others.”

23,579 children are currently benefitting from Flying Start and Ministers want the scheme to cover 36,000 children and their families by 2016. The Welsh Government is investing more than £275 million of revenue funding into the programme over the four years of the expansion (2012-16) and £25 million of capital funding to develop the infrastructure.

Channel website: https://www.icaew.com

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