There are significant literacy challenges amongst young children in Hastings and St Leonards, with children falling behind their peers from the start of their schooling. In 2016:

– Only 63% of pupils eligible for free school meals (FSM) met the expected standard in phonics at age six compared with 69% of FSM pupils nationally.- By the end of key stage 1 (age seven), achievement in reading was slightly below the national average and significantly lower for disadvantaged pupils.

– Pupils made less progress in reading between key stage 1 and key stage 2 than their peers across England.

– More than half of disadvantaged pupils (54%) left primary school with a reading level below the expected standard.

What are we doing to improve this?


Fourteen primary schools are involved in a programme to improve language and literacy skills for children aged 3-6 in Hastings and St Leonards. The programme consists of:

– Providing development courses for all Early Years Foundation Stage Teachers.

– Improved and increased training to Teaching Assistants

– Increased resources to give struggling children additional support.

– Supporting parents to assist their children’s language and literacy development at home.

Project Two – Early years speech, language and communication support

The Hastings Opportunity Area is funding a programme, that will enable Early Years settings across Hastings to develop their work with children identified with impoverished language or a speech, language and communication need. Through the project, p participating early years settings, such as nurseries or children’s centres, will receive mentoring and training from East Sussex County Council Early Communication Support Workers.

The early communication support workers, will work with participating settings  to identify those children who require additional support and then offer bespoke training and ongoing support to staff so that they can deliver evidence based interventions for children and families. The programme also offers resources for children’s progress to be monitored.

Currently, 23 early years settings are engaging with this service, which is very encouraging.