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Children eligible for free school meals (FSM) who live near a Sure Start centre saw increased performance at GCSE by three grades, six times higher than children not eligible for FSM, new research has found.

The research from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) and funded by the Nuffield Foundation focuses on the expansion of the Sure Start programme from 1999 to 2010.

Findings also reveal that Sure Start had a greater positive impact on non-white children, and any children who lived within 2.5 kilometres of a centre until they were five years old performed 0.8 grades better in their GCSEs.

Sure Start was also found to have increased the prevalence of support for special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) at young ages, leading to a need for education, health and care plans at age 16 years old or above decreasing by 9%.

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