The Early Years Commitment aims to provide nurseries, pre-schools, children's centres or childminding settings develop a whole setting approach to communication.
A new website invites providers to sign up for the commitment, initially completing a pre-commitment checklist to evaluate what they are already doing and identifying any gaps in provision.
The Early Years Commitment is then divided into five areas:
- workforce development
- communication-friendly settings
- supporting children with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN)
- engagement with parents, families and other early years professionals
A list of suggested actions accompanies each area, which settings can choose from to create their own action plans to improve their approach to communication.
Providers can then access a range of free online resources to help them complete their chosen actions, including communication toolkits, factsheets, posters, PowerPoint presentations, online training and links to related websites.
Settings which successfully complete their action plans receive a certificate and, if they wish, can choose to work further on the suggested areas and actions alongside The Communication Trust’s specialist partners through a mixture of consultancy, training, programmes of work, or on a fully accredited programme.
The Communication Trust received funding from the Department for Education last year to pilot the commitment in collaboration with Blackpool Better Start in 10 early years settings in Blackpool.
The project is also supported by children’s communication charity I CAN.
A nursery manager from one of the Blackpool settings involved in the pilot said, ‘The communication materials made us stop and think about what we were doing and how we could improve and develop our practice. We found the fact that it was broken down in to small steps really supported us as it enabled the nursery to see how we could tweak our practice and enhance what we were already doing.’
Shona Crichton, lead professional advisor at The Communication Trust, said, ‘We have based the Early Years Commitment on up to date research, across all educational phases, including the Better Communication Research Programme, so that our suggested actions are both practical and grounded in current evidence. Early speech, language and communication skills have a profound impact on a child’s later life and we want to support early years settings and childminders as much as possible to support children’s development in this area.’
- To register for the Early Years Commitment, visit http://www.thecommunicationtrust.org.uk/projects/early-years-commitment/register/