New tool to boost early years language

Thursday, September 24, 2015

A new improvement tool to help staff in early years settings foster children’s language, literacy and communication is being developed.

HELLO (Helping Early Literacy and Language Outcomes) will aim to boost the literacy of under-threes by increasing knowledge and confidence among early years practitioners of how children develop their language and communication skills, and ways in which they can support this inside and outside the setting.

Early Years Foundation Stage data shows nationally that literacy is the area of early years development with the lowest proportion of children achieving at least the expected level.

The tool is being developed by the National Literacy Trust in partnership with Middlesbrough Council and Reading Borough Council, along with five nursery teaching schools across England, with funding from the Department for Education.

The five nursery teaching schools involved are:

  • St Edmund’s Teaching School in Bradford, West Yorkshire;
  • Childhaven Community Nursery School in Scarborough, North Yorkshire;
  • Harrington Nursery School in Derby, Derbyshire;
  • Everton Nursery School and Family Centre, Liverpool;
  • Peter Pan Teaching School Alliance in Bedford.

Each partner has recruited between nine and 16 schools, and a number of private, voluntary and independent nurseries to help develop the tool over the next six months.

From next year, the nurseries and schools involved will share best practice with other settings in their area.

HELLO will be available for all early years practitioners and teachers to use on the National Literacy Trust’s network from April 2016.

Jonathan Douglas, director of the National Literacy Trust, said, ‘The early years are crucial for every child’s literacy development because if they have fallen behind by the age of three, they are already at a disadvantage compared to their peers and may never catch up.

‘HELLO will give early years practitioners a better understanding of how a child’s literacy develops and what they can do to support this, both in the setting and by encouraging parents to share stories, engage and play with their child at home.

‘It will be designed for early years practitioners to share the lessons they learn from using it. For example, how to gain more confidence in using digital media to increase a child’s vocabulary, particularly for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.’

Literacy campaign

The development of the tool comes as the education secretary Nicky Morgan and children’s author and comedian David Williams today issued a call to publishers, schools and early years providers to join forces to make English pupils the most literate in Europe in five years.

The ambition set out today forms the next phase of the Government’s literacy campaign.

Launched in August, the literacy campaign is part of the Government’s One Nation approach to social justice, which aims to ensure every child is able to reach their potential regardless of their background.

Under the next phase of the campaign, the Department for Education (DfE) has announced it is providing funding to the Reading Agency to extend its Chatterbooks scheme by setting up book clubs in 200 more primary schools across the country.

The DfE is also looking to identify top primary schools with effective strategies for getting young people reading so that every school can learn from their success.

Speaking today during a visit to Charles Dickens Primary School in London, education secretary Nicky Morgan said, ‘If a child fails to learn how to read, the consequences can be nothing short of devastating, holding them back for the rest of their lives.

'I am absolutely determined to make sure that every child, no matter where they live or what their background, learns to read, to read widely and to read well - giving them the best opportunity to get on in life.

‘There is no silver bullet, no magic wand we can wave to magically transform literacy for every child in this country. But we owe it to our young people to explore every possible path.’

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