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'Springboard' will improve the lives of Birkenhead children and parents
A GRANT to launch a pioneering school to reduce child poverty has been approved by Wirral’s cabinet.
The scheme – Springboard – will see a free school being set up to teach young people parenting skills and ensure children are ready to take their first steps in the education system.
Birkenhead MP Frank Field, who proposed the project in April, wants to break the “cycle of inter-generational poverty” and improve youngsters’ life chances.
In a report before council cabinet on Thursday, the acting director of children’s services proposed £300,000 of £400,000 set aside for tackling poverty will be given to the project.
Councillors agreed 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 trial run.
A further £250,000 will be awarded if the Trust’s plan is “comprehensive, satisfactory and sufficiently robust” and if the scheme’s goals are clearly set out.
Councillor Tony Smith, Wirral’s cabinet member for children’s services and lifelong learning, said: “I feel it is the right approach to set aside this money for the business plan and I fully recommend it.”
Council leader Cllr Phil Davies added: “It’s important that we invest in early years as it will benefit local people in the long-term.”
The second phase of the pilot would involve 100 families taking part over an 18-month period.
Under the proposals, the school will operate from several centres with its headquarters based at Tranmere Community Centre.
If successful, Springboard is expected to be extended across the country.
Frank Field MP told the Globe: “I am delighted with the Council’s decision to make a grant to The Foundation Years Trust.
"It is an important project using the best evidence to improve children’s life chances.
"Even in tough times, Wirral Council has the courage to back innovative projects aimed at tackling with the causes of poverty, rather than dealing with its consequences."