A group of pupils yesterday told school leaders at a major charity conference in Birmingham why it is important they work with their local communities to ensure every child gets the best possible start in life.

The Year 10 pupils kicked off the National College for School Leader-ship conference, which has attracted more than 300 school chiefs, by giving their personal views on why every child matters.

Charity chiefs said they were hoping delegates at the NEC event would get a poignant reminder of why school leaders should work closely with their communities and other children's service agencies to ensure every child has the best possible start in life - one of the central aims of the Government's Every Child Matters policy.

Maggie Farrar, director of standards at NCSL, said: "Children's agencies working closely together can stop young people falling through the net.

"Instead of just reacting to difficulties in their lives we can prevent things going wrong in the first place.

"We know it's a challenging and complex thing to achieve, but we hope what these pupils say will remind us that even when the going gets tough it really is worth it."

* More information at www.ncsl.org.uk or call 0870 001 1155.