Conference aims to give every child best possible start in life

The junior choir featured pre-school children from the Kirktonholme (Owl and the Pussycat) Nursery, Ayr.
The junior choir featured pre-school children from the Kirktonholme (Owl and the Pussycat) Nursery, Ayr.

“We want to create opportunities across South Ayrshire where every child has the best possible start in life, regardless of their background or circumstances,” that was the ambitious message delivered today at an Early Years conference at County Buildings in Ayr.

The main focus of the conference was on early intervention – working with families and carers to intervene early in life, to help prevent more significant educational or child development issues arising later on.

Hosted by South Ayrshire Council, the event brought together a range of agencies involved in the early stages of children’s education and development, including social services, health, education, police and voluntary organisations, all committed to ensuring that every baby, child, mother, father and family in Scotland has access to the best supports available.

Opening the conference, South Ayrshire Council’s Chief Executive Eileen Howat said: “The conference has one simple goal, but it has far reaching implications for all of us – giving every child in South Ayrshire the best start and an equal opportunity to succeed regardless of their background or circumstances.

“By bringing together all those involved in the lives of babies and children I hope we can further develop our excellent work to ensure positive opportunities for all our children to get the start in life they need, giving them a strong foundation for personal growth, development and success.

Hugh Carswell, South Ayrshire Council’s Head of Children’s Services added: “A child’s development in the early years has a real bearing on their outcomes later in life and our vision is to make South Ayrshire a fantastic place to grow up, offering superb opportunities to succeed for all children – and their families.”

Keynote speakers included John Carnochan, a former Detective Chief Superintendent and founder of the Violence Reduction Unit, Chris McIlroy, former Chief Inspector with HMIE and Tam Baillie, Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People.

During the day, a number of workshops and interactive sessions were also arranged, which included healthy eating, parent/carer experiences, health visitor clinics, as well as learning and development in the great outdoors.

Councillor Margaret Toner, South Ayrshire Council’s Portfolio Holder for Lifelong Learning commented: “There is strong evidence about the benefits of investing in the early years and the conference will be particularly helpful in allowing practitioners from a variety of different agencies to share their successes, in order that we can all learn what works well and where we can do more.

“I trust this conference will help us continue to deliver high quality results for every child in South Ayrshire and we can all renew our commitment to working together to make a lasting and positive impact on our youngest members of the community.”