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Council cash to 'springboard' children out of poverty
PLANS to launch a pioneering virtual school to reduce child poverty in Wirral are set to be given the go-ahead.
The scheme – Springboard – will involve a free school being set up to teach young people parenting skills and ensure children are ready for their first day of school.
Birkenhead MP Frank Field , who proposed the project in April, wants to break the “cycle of intergenerational poverty” and improve youngsters’ life chances.
And Wirral’s cabinet is set to release the first phase of funding when they meet tonight at Wallasey Town Hall.
It is proposed that £300,000 of £400,000 set aside for tackling intergenerational poverty will be given to the project.
Councillors are expected to agree to release £50,000 immediately to Springboard’s umbrella organisation The Foundation Years Trust to develop a detailed business plan and carry out a pre-pilot phase.
A further £250,000 will then be awarded if the Trust’s plan is “comprehensive, satisfactory and sufficiently robust” and if the scheme’s goals are clearly set out.
The second phase of the pilot would then involve 100 families taking part over an 18-month period.
Speaking to cabinet in April, Mr Field said: “The idea is not to worry about buildings but to begin a service from the 12th week of pregnancy where we can work with expectant mothers. We are witnessing a breakdown in good parenting here and elsewhere and something should be done.
"During the first years of a child’s development, their life chances are determined – particularly those from the poorest backgrounds.
"We want to work with parents when their baby is still in the womb to make them more useful than they would otherwise be.
"Although this would be a virtual school, it would still have a governing body and we would hope all parties would be a part of that.
"It will be very much a Wirral project of cutting edge ideas – no-one has done it before and it thinking very much outside of the box."
It is hoped the project would begin during the early stages of pregnancy and would also give support to the most vulnerable mothers and children.
Under the proposals, the school will operate from a number of centres with its headquarters based at Tranmere Community Centre.
If successful, Springboard is expected to be rolled out across the country to improve skills among young people and create better life chances for future generations