Latest figures show that Manchester is working hard to get ahead of the game nationally in terms of getting youngsters 'school ready' before they start primary school.
In 2012/13 less than half of all children in the city (47 per cent) were assessed as being 'school ready' by the time they started full-time school. Five years on and this figure has gone up significantly so that now nearly seven out of every ten children in the city (66 per cent) are classed as ready for school when they start.
This local rate of improvement mirrors the rate nationally and reflects the hard work going on across the city in all childcare and early years settings to ensure children have the skills necessary to give them the very best start when they begin full-time school. 92 per cent of all childcare settings in the city in the private and voluntary sector have now been judged Good or better by Ofsted and outcomes continue to improve.
School readiness measures how prepared a child is to succeed in school - not just in terms of their learning, but also in terms of their social and emotional development. It actually starts at birth with the support of parents and carers, when young children start to develop the social and emotional skills, knowledge and attitudes necessary for success in school and life.
Children are assessed as being school ready if they have reached a 'good level of development'. This is defined as achieving at least the expected level in a number of early learning goals.
These include communication and language skills, physical development, personal social and emotional development - having self confidence, managing feelings, making friends; reading and writing; early maths work - numbers, shapes, space and measures; understanding the world; and creative expression through the arts and using their imagination.
School readiness at age five has a strong impact on future educational attainment and life chances. It isn't however just better for the child - there are clear benefits not only for children themselves but also for society at large through improved educational outcomes, reduced healthcare costs, reduced crime and increased taxes paid due to increased future earnings as adults.
Councillor Luthfur Rahman, Executive Member for Schools, Culture and Leisure, Manchester City Council, said: "The figures speak for themselves - far more children are school ready now in the city than five years ago. Although our rate of improvement during this time is the same as that nationally, we have set our sights much higher and are determined to do everything we can, as quickly as we can, to ensure every single child is school ready at the point at which they go to primary school for the first time.
"This is not just about teaching children the basics of counting, reading, writing and numbers - it's far more than that, and is as much about a child's social and emotional development as it is about learning the alphabet and writing their name.
"The importance of school readiness can't be over-stated. School ready children have a greater chance of success, not just in school but also in life. I'm sure there isn't one parent anywhere in Manchester who, like me wouldn't want that for their child."
School readiness is also at the heart of the council's early years delivery model that has been rolled out across the whole city during the last two years.
Councillor Rahman and Council Chief Executive Joanne Roney visited Martenscroft Nursery School and Children's Centre in Hulme this week to see the work being done there to ensure all children get the very best start in life and are school ready by the time they start full time school.
Joanne Roney OBE, Chief Executive of Manchester City Council, said: "It was great to visit Martenscroft and to meet children there and talk to staff about the fantastic work they do and to see for myself what a difference excellent early help like this really can make to children."