A NORTH Birkenhead literacy programme is expanding to new boroughs following its success.

Cradle to Career, in partnership with Wirral Council, has improved literacy and tackled inequalities since launching in North Birkenhead four years ago and is now replicating the successful model in Halton and Knowsley, newly released impact figures show.

The programme was instigated and funded by the Steve Morgan Foundation and SHINE, and is managed by national charity, Right to Succeed.  

In September 2022, Cradle to Career rolled out the next stage of its  programme to Halton Lea (Halton) and Northwood (Knowsley) with funding from Mayor Steve Rotheram and the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, the Steve Morgan Foundation, SHINE, The National Lottery Community Fund, UBS Optimus Foundation, Bank of America and A&O Shearman.

Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said: “For too long, too many young people in our area have had their fates decided for them before they even set foot in a classroom, held back by a postcode lottery that dictates their future income, attainment, health and life chances.

“Fortunately, devolution has given areas like ours the opportunity to address some of these fundamental systemic problems head-on by handing power back to communities.

“Cradle to Career is a radical and bespoke approach to improving outcomes – and the results have been marked; we have helped hundreds of young people to change their lives for the better and I want to give more of our residents that same opportunity.

“This is real levelling up – and it is the Liverpool City Region leading the way in showing the rest of the country how to support the most vulnerable in our society.”

The impact statistics from across the two boroughs show that Cradle to Career has reduced by 12% the number of early years students requiring moderate or severe support for speech, language and communication needs (SLCN), provided school project interventions to 3,558 primary and secondary pupils, and trained 412 practitioners in literacy and reading, SLCN and social, emotional and mental health (SEMH). 

Following Mayor Steve Rotheram’s re-election this month (May 2024), the planned rollout of Cradle to Career across further boroughs of the Liverpool City Region looks set to come to fruition, as detailed in his election manifesto.

The Mayor has committed to identifying the next wave of areas to extend the programme, expanding its support from 18,000 to 36,000 children and young people each year by 2030.

The expansion follows a £5.25m investment from Mayor Rotheram and the Combined Authority in September 2023 to extend the programme across the region’s most deprived areas.

Elizabeth Hartley, director for children, families and education at Wirral Council said: “Pioneering this place-based change programme over four years ago has been a game-changer for Wirral Council; by working collectively we have been able to break down barriers between residents and services to make real social change.

“It’s a credit to our multi-disciplinary teams in North Birkenhead that the Combined Authority can now expand Cradle to Career to improve the lives of families across the Liverpool City Region.”

Since its launch in 2021, Cradle to Career’s flagship programme in North Birkenhead has increased the number of pupils with high reading ability in the borough by 42%, reached thousands of children with free educational, well-being and training projects, and launched the Child Criminal Exploitation Campaign to provide training to parents in North Birkenhead and prevent young people in the area from getting involved in crime.

These results and those from the initial delivery in Halton and Knowsley will now inform the future of the Cradle to Career programme across the Liverpool City Region and beyond.