The funding, secured through the nursery’s collaboration with the charity Save the Children UK, will also enable the nursery to work with health and home visiting partners to identify families needing extra support.
It will include sessions with parents to build their confidence and skills in supporting relationships and interactions to help learning at home.
It will also be used to offer short-term or long-term places for children who may not be entitled to Free Early Learning but are identified by professionals working with the family as needing extra support.
'I am really pleased the nursery has been able to help her become confident and her own little person'
Thanks to the funding three children who would not have been eligible to start until September have already taken up places at the nursery.
Syrenna Paterson’s daughter, Willow, has been able to join the nursery early thanks to the extra funding.
Syrenna said: “The community really needed a nursery in the area especially for little ones. Willow hasn’t had much interaction with other children, so I wanted her to be confident and social with others. After the year everyone has had I was worried that Willow wouldn’t enjoy nursery and being around others, but I think it was what she needed.
“By starting nursery earlier, it has helped to structure the day and will be a good starting point before school.
“I have noticed her speech is definitely coming on she is trying to put words together now. Also, she is wanting to be more independent and do things for herself. I am really pleased the nursery has been able to help her become confident and her own little person.”
Addressing growing inequalities
Save the Children UK is a partner in the project which led to the establishment of the Meadows Nursery which was opened in April 2021.
Alongside the University, Watercliffe Meadow Primary School and Sheffield City Council, the charity helped to establish the first of its kind Early Years Community Research Centre which is home to Meadows Nursery.
The Centre, based in Shirecliffe Community Centre, is a hub for innovative early years learning and care alongside multi-disciplinary on-site research.
Sally Pearse, Interim Director of the Early Years Community Research Centre, said: “The Early Years Community Research Centre is focused on making the greatest impact we can on children’s outcomes and addressing growing inequalities that may result from the global pandemic.
“This extra funding will enable us to reach even more families and support them following a very challenging year for parents and young children.”
Children who are entitled to Free Early Learning from two-years-old ordinarily have to wait until the term after their birthday before they are able to take up a place – meaning families who need it most could miss out on weeks or months of subsidised nursery care.
This new funding allows a child to start at the nursery as soon as they reach their second birthday.
Rachel Parkin, Head of North of England for Save the Children UK, said: “It's really important that we work together to help give children the best start in life.
“The Early Years Community Research Centre is an incredibly exciting example of this, providing high quality support for children, and working with children, families and professionals to understand how can make the greatest impact, together.”