Generous donation supports development catch-up for tiny tots

A generous donation towards books and resources is helping early years’ pupils at a Northumberland primary school to play ‘catch up’ in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.

Young learners aged between two and four years who attend Bishop’s Primary School’s early years’ facilities have received special ‘Story Sacks’ filled with books, educational games and learning resources to enjoy at home thanks to a £2,000 donation from Newcastle Diocese Mothers’ Union.

Mothers’ Union is a Church of England affiliated organisation with over four million members worldwide, whose primary aim is to support Christian family life and the nurture of children.

When the pandemic first hit, Mothers’ Union members realised that children’s development, especially those in isolated communities or areas of high socio-economic deprivation, would be particularly affected by an extended period of lockdown.

With over 900 members in the Newcastle Diocese area alone, the charity’s Diocesan President, Barbara Packer, wanted to explore how the charity could best support the children deemed most in need throughout Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland.

Barbara said: “Since we are a Church of England organisation, I approached the Diocesan Education Department for advice as to the best way to help children in our Church communities to gain access to educational resources which would support their development in the aftermath of lockdown.

“The department suggested Northumberland Church of England Academy Trust and more specifically, Bishop’s Primary School. We had already decided that we could afford to give £2,000 and that we would be guided by ‘those on the ground’ as to the best way to use it.”

Trustees from the charity were directed towards Bishop’s Primary School’s Principal, Melanie Hinson, who launched a staff consultation to determine who would benefit most from the initiative.

“Staff agreed that it was our early years children whose education had been most affected by the prolonged period of lockdown,” Melanie commented.

“While our older children have been able to engage in a full programme of remote learning, for our two and three year olds, the lack of interaction with children their own age has seen them return to our early years settings less confident, more anxious and in some cases, less independent than they were before.

“Liaising with Mothers’ Union, we agreed that ‘Story Sacks’ – or something similar – seemed to be a good way in which quite a lot of children could benefit, and receive resources which could be used at home to support their speech and language development, fine motor skills and confidence building among other things.

“The Story Sacks have been really well received by staff, parents and our young learners. We can’t thank Mothers’ Union enough for their kind donation.”

Serving South East Northumberland with campuses across Ashington, Newbiggin-by-the-Sea and Lynemouth, Bishop’s Primary School (part of Northumberland Church of England Academy Trust) is one of the largest primary academies in the region, with over 1,600 pupils aged 2-11.

With early years provisions based at four out of its five campuses, Bishop’s Primary is an early-adopter of the new EYFS framework for high-quality early learning.

For more information, visit www.bishops.ncea.org.uk or to find out more about Mothers’ Union, see www.mothersunion.org.