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Newham Mayor Sir Robin Wales on his Every Child programme

PUBLISHED: 15:04 20 March 2013 | UPDATED: 15:04 20 March 2013

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Last week I launched Chess in Schools with young people at Stratford Library. It is the latest addition to Newham’s Every Child programme, which covers music, dance, sport, the theatre, maths, and reading.

I want children playing chess in our schools, in our libraries and in our parks. This public and private sector project with charity Chess in Schools and Communities and East Village, the first legacy neighbourhood from the 2012 Games, is a great example of how Newham Council works with others to boost educational attainment. It is something that should be replicated nationally.

Every young person in Newham matters and I am determined they should have the same chances as those in wealthier parts of the country.

Our Every Child programme focuses on developing the personal resilience of young people.

Newham is one of only two authorities in the country to provide free school meals for every primary school child. As well as putting £566 back into the pockets of parents before tax, independent research shows it has a positive impact on pupils’ attainment.

Our Every Newham Child a Reader programme provides phonics lessons with one-to-one tuition for those who need it. Early results suggest improvement in reading and writing in participating schools. Our Every Child a Musician scheme is the largest free music tuition programme in the country, with 10,000 children benefiting from free tuition and an instrument to keep.

Considering three quarters of Newham children do not speak English as a first language and the high rates of pupil mobility we have, what we are delivering with schools has been transformational.

As a council with a smaller grant from central government than before, we have stretched our finances so that we can protect what matters most and that includes giving young people the best start in life. We should all be investing in changing outcomes for our youngest residents and putting the building blocks in place for their future progress. It is worth saying it again – every child matters.

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