A pilot scheme aimed at improving young children’s speech and understanding of language before they start school in East Lancashire has been praised by a minister.

The Best Start in Life scheme, run by Lancashire County Council, aims to increase the number of children reaching the required standard in England and Maths by the end of Reception year.

Part of this has been a successful pilot scheme in Hyndburn on speech and language, which will now be rolled out into other boroughs of the county including Rossendale and Pendle.

In the pilot, a 100-child waiting list was eliminated between December 2022 and May 2023, helping children get ready for school and have the required skills to make good progress at the beginning of their school life.

Andrea Leadsom, minister for public health, start for life and primary care, learned about the scheme on a visit to Lancashire at the Ribbleton Family Hub, where she met staff, parents and toddlers.

Between January 2021 and 2023, there was an 18 per cent increase in the number of families taking places up on the LCC scheme, which incorporates working with maternity services and health visitors, and helping children to access early year’s education.

During the visit, Mrs Leadsom said: “It was wonderful to come to Lancashire to see the important work being done and a real focus on getting support to where it is needed to give every baby the best start in life.

"Working with babies, parents, and carers has always been vitally important to me, and I was delighted to hear from families in Lancashire who have been helped to access these services that are so vital in these critical early years."

County Councillor Cosima Towneley, cabinet member for children and families said: "We believe it is very important that families are offered seamless support through the Best Start in Life service, ensuring they have all they need in one place.

"We want children to be ready socially, cognitively and emotionally for school.

"By taking an early intervention approach, this scheme is turning around children's futures. This would not have been possible without key services coming together and working collaboratively to target inequalities."