DfE £1.6m fund to improve early language and opportunities

Disadvantaged children with speech and language difficulties in North Yorkshire are to receive extra support through a new Department for Education scheme.

It forms part of a package of support, announced by the education secretary Damian Hinds, worth £1.6 million, to help children and families living on the North Yorkshire coast – a Government Opportunity Area.

It is being funded through the Government's Opportunity Area programme.

One of the schemes, worth £800,000, will be to improve children's communication and literacy skills.

It will include funding 40 speech and language champions who will work with nurseries and pre-schools in the area to help them identify when children might need better support and ensure they arrive at school ready to learn.

For parents struggling to help their young children with reading, writing and language, a number of community workshops run by early years experts will be organised.

More than 20 primary school schools will also receive support to improve pupils’ speech, language and communication skills. This could include bringing on-board an on-site therapist in schools where children need the most help.

The second scheme, also worth £800,000, will launch in September with the aim of improving access to sports, arts and cultural activities for more than 3,500 children from the age of five living in Scarborough, Whitby and Filey.

Making the announcement during a visit to Coventry yesterday, the education secretary said, ‘The Opportunity Area programme is about making sure we create the right conditions to broaden the horizons of young people from disadvantaged areas and give them the best start in life.

‘The funding will help to support parents on the North Yorkshire Coast with their child’s early language development and also help young people access extra-curricular activities that build the resilience and character they need to fulfill their ambitions, whatever they may be.’

The package of support forms part of the Government’s £72 million Opportunity Area programme. North Yorkshire Coast is one of 12 Opportunity Areas.

It builds on the education secretary’s pledge to halve the number of children finishing Reception without the early communication or reading skills they need by 2028, as well as on the £20 million of investment already announced to improve early language and literacy for disadvantaged children around England.

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