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Greater Manchester extends tech aimed at giving children the best start in life

An app which is making it easier for children in Greater Manchester to access the development support they need in their early years, has now been extended to identify and assist those with speech and language difficulties when they start school.

Launched in 2020, the early years digitisation project is a huge step forward for our city-region and is boosting our aim of giving children in Greater Manchester the best possible start in life.

The Early Years App digitises the traditional, paper-based assessments used to review a child’s development It is currently used in Bury and Rochdale and can be deployed in other areas of Greater Manchester, supporting professionals and parents of children up to age of 2.5 years. It works by streamlining systems to connect hundreds of Greater Manchester professionals such as health visitors and school health services with parents and carers, enabling them to work together to better support families more efficiently.

An extension to the app has now gone live in Rochdale, giving early education practitioners the ability to complete WellComm assessment forms digitally, reaching children up to primary school age. For the first time in Greater Manchester, assessment data from these WellComm forms can now be shared between relevant practitioners in local authority and health services; and soon to be extended to private, voluntary and independent settings. An integrated reporting feature is also providing access to rich analysis of assessment data not currently available locally.

WellComm assessments screen children for speech and language ability, enabling practitioners to identify problems before they become more serious and to provide activities to address them.

Speaking about the extension to the app, Cllr Eamonn O’Brien, GMCA Lead for Employment, Skills and Digital said: “In Greater Manchester we continue to invest in digital transformation that benefits our residents. The extension of the existing Early Years App into early education settings is helping to join-up our public services and is a great example of using digital to streamline and make our services more efficient.”

Greater Manchester Combined Authority worked with relevant teams from local authority early years and education teams, alongside health services, to develop the app, along with external agency Objectivity. The extension has also increased the age range of children in Rochdale being supported via the app, now reaching children up to primary school age.

The extension also gives quicker access to assessment data, supporting the earlier identification of any developmental needs a child may have.

“The extension to this app in Rochdale, which now includes a speech and language assessment is helping to give children up to primary school age the best start in life. Professionals working with families will now benefit from better information sharing which will make sure children get the right support at the right time.” Amanda Highland-Partington, Head of Early Years and Early Help, Rochdale Borough Council.

Since the original Early Years App was launched in 2020, 40,000 digital assessments have been completed, boosting our aim of giving children in Greater Manchester the best possible start in life.

Find out more on the Early Years App.

Article Published: 10/03/2023 10:37 AM