Children’s life chances are greatly impacted by the quality of their experiences before they start school. Research shows that early gaps in communication and language skills are strongly associated with later barriers to achievement and progress at school, and mental health and employability outcomes later on.

By the time children start school aged five, the gap between the communication and language skills developed by disadvantaged children and their wealthier peers can be as large as 15 months. Children from more affluent backgrounds hear, on average, 30 million more words than children from low income homes by the age of three.

Studies show that a child below the age of five who has limited vocabulary and difficulty communicating will not be ready for school and will then lag behind other children for the rest of their time in education.

The early years is therefore a critical phase to get right if we are to make a long-term difference to outcomes at school.

A range of studies have shown that high quality interventions in the pre-school years can impact significantly on children’s outcomes at school. However, much of this impact can fade out during primary school if successful approaches aren’t sustained.

Our Ready for School programme identifies, funds and spreads best practice in the development of early communication and language skills, helping to ensure that all children in the North are given the best possible chances right from their earliest experiences of school.

For more information about the kinds of ideas we fund, please read our funding criteria.

You can also take a look at the Ready for School projects that we are already funding across the Northern Powerhouse.