New DfE programme to support disadvantaged children's language development

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The £845,000 scheme to boost children’s speech, language and communication skills has launched in Derby.


Osmaston Allenton Children’s Centre in Derby where the programme was launched

TALK Derby aims to increase the social mobility of children across the city, in particular those in the least advantaged areas, by strengthening their speech, language and communication skills.

It is funded by the Department for Education through the Derby Opportunity Area up until September 2020 and being co-ordinated by Hempsalls consultancy.

Under the programme, a city-wide campaign to promote the importance of talking and listening to children more will be launched. As part of the campaign, parents/carers, schools and early years settings will be encouraged to sign a pledge to spend more time talking and listening to the children in their lives at mealtimes, during play and through everyday conversations.

Through TALK Derby, childcare practitioners working in eight of the most deprived wards of the City (Abbey, Alavaston, Arboretum, Boulton, Chaddesdon, Derwent, Normanton and Sinfin) will be offered free training and support to further develop their skills in supporting children's language development and enable them to spot when 'things are going wrong'.

Using Better Communication's system improvement tool, they will be able to identify what they are doing well and if there are any skills gaps.

Practitioners will also be offered free accredited training delivered by speech and language specialists Elklan to improve their knowledge.


kate-freemanProject director Kate Freeman from Hempsalls said, ‘TALK Derby aims to inspire and equip parents and professionals to help our children develop as they should. It’s something that benefits us all – in families, communities, education and work.’

Director of Elklan Liz Elks said, ‘Our parent engagement work involves fun interactive sessions with carers and their children designed to promote early communication skills. Our accredited training programmes provide practical, easy to implement strategies to enable early years practitioners to make changes in practice and so boost children's talking and learning. Simple and genuinely two-way conversations help children build their understanding and skills, making them more confident in expressing feelings and ideas.’

Children and Families Minister Nadhim Zahawi said, ‘We want to create a generation of confident learners – and parents are a child’s first and most dedicated teacher, helping to get them talking and communicating before they reach the classroom. You don’t need expensive books or toys to help your child develop literacy skills. It can be as simple as reading labels as you go around the supermarket together or pointing out things that you see on the bus – little interactions can have a huge impact.

‘Children from lower income families are more likely to fall behind at school compared to their peers and once you’re behind it’s hard to catch up. That’s why projects like TALK Derby are vital and why we are launching a major new campaign shortly to help parents incorporate Chat, Play and Read into their daily life, putting their children on track to succeed.’

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