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Innovative Learning in Running for National Award

An innovative approach to child development in South Tyneside has been shortlisted for a national award.

South Tyneside Council's Basket of Opportunities programme has been shortlisted for a national award in this year's Children and Young People Now awards which have become the gold standard for those working with children and young people.

The BOO project is a back-to basics approach to boosting language, social, physical, emotional and personal development in two-year-olds. Under the scheme, parents are given a basket containing threading beads, building blocks, a jigsaw, a ball, a chalk board and a nursery rhyme book and CD that they can use with their child.

The initiative has proven to be very successful. Youngsters who take part in the scheme make accelerated learning, achieving double the progress expected of them over the six months of the programme.

The Council is a finalist in the Early Years category in the awards which this year attracted a record number of entries.

Councillor Joan Atkinson, Lead Member for Children, Young People and Families, said: "This is a significant achievement. It is a source of great pride that the work of the Council has been recognised at a national level.

"These awards are important in showcasing projects which have had a positive impact on people's lives and that is exactly what the BOO programme has done. Feedback from people who have used the BOO baskets is tremendously positive and I'm thrilled that this initiative, which is now rightly considered to be an example of best practice, is having such a profound and positive impact on youngsters' learning."

The programme, which has been developed by the Council in partnership with educational psychologist Dr Madeleine Portwood, is aimed at stimulating social, emotional and physical skills as well as language development. South Tyneside Council is one of the first local authorities in the North East to use the scheme extensively.

The awards presentation will take place on Thursday, 26 November at The Hurlingham Club in London.

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