Sure Start as a whole failed to boost youngsters' development, language and behaviour. It also showed children of teenage mothers did worse in Sure Start areas than elsewhere.This story was discussed in a leader and by Polly Toynbee. To be fair (as footballers all say nowadays) their arguments that it is early in the day to be evaluating Sure Start and that there are problems with the study in question were persuasive.
But they went further than that.
The leader concluded:
What is already apparent is that the expansion is under-funded. Ministers are trying to finance a fivefold increase with only double the amount of spending. That inevitably generates poorly performing schemes. If you want Scandinavian levels of excellence they do not come cheap.And Toynbee concluded:
What is needed now is more, not less, intensive and expensive professional support. Even if there is no proof yet of Sure Start's direct effect on young children, Labour must now accelerate spending on this best hope for the children with the least chance.Somehow a study, however flawed, suggesting that Sure Start does not work has been turned into an argument for spending even more money on the scheme. I can't help thinking there must be a flaw in the logic somewhere.