A focus on health will be part of a new accreditation scheme for early years settings in Slough.
In the borough there are several health inequalities in children and young people, including the following.
• Poor oral health - a third of five year olds and a quarter of three year olds suffer with dental decay.
• Obesity crisis - one in five of Slough’s children starts reception as overweight or obese, higher than the average in the South East.
• Low immunisation uptake – namely the MMR and flu vaccines.
• Mental ill-health - 9.6% of 5-16 year olds in Slough present with at least one mental health disorder (emotional, behavioural, hyperactive, or other) with a particular increase in emotional disorders (includes anxiety and depression). This is higher than the 5.5% average in the South East.
After a year of unprecedented change due to coronavirus, it has shown the importance of health and wellbeing and how this could be improved in our community. Early interventions to improve children’s health not only contribute to school readiness, but help determine better future health outcomes.
Early years providers and schools need to work collaboratively with health professionals, external agencies and services to support parents and carers, to prevent a worsening of this crisis. To do this, the early year’s team has developed a kitemark, in partnership with public health, which will support every early years setting to promote and establish the best health improvement messages and practices.
It incorporates an accredited award scheme which includes the following areas:
• health and wellbeing
• nutrition and oral health
• physical activity
• emotional and mental wellbeing.
Each setting will be assessed in these areas and need to provide evidence of good practice to achieve a bronze, silver, gold or platinum level of accreditation. The aim is to see as many settings as possible signing up for the accreditation.
Debbie Haden, local childminder and owner of Debs Dinkies, said: “We are excited to be completing the accreditation, and to be able to give the children the best possible start to achieving good health and wellbeing for their future years.”
Maryam Ali, nursery manager at Olive Tree Montessori, said: “At the Olive Tree Montessori, we are always striving to support our children and their families. Having read the criteria for the accreditation, I can clearly see how this will benefit the overall health and wellbeing of the families we serve.”
Councillor Natasa Pantelic, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “We're delighted to be introducing this brand new kitemark accreditation scheme to our early years settings developed in conjunction with the Slough public health team. We are focused on reducing health inequalities throughout the borough and the scheme will help us move towards this goal. I am excited to see that some of our early years’ workforce have already achieved their bronze level and look forward to seeing how the scheme progresses.”
Councillor Martin Carter, cabinet member for children and schools, said: “We have a fantastic early years’ workforce in Slough and this kitemark accreditation scheme will enhance the offer that our practitioners, childminders, nursery staff and teachers can give our youngest residents. The focus on health at such an early age is incredibly important to give our under fives a fantastic start in life.”