Childcare professionals, business leaders and councillors across Derby gathered at Pride Park today (25 September) to learn more about a major new Government programme designed to improve education and future job opportunities for local children.

The £845,000 project called ‘TALK Derby’ aims to increase the social mobility of children across the whole city, and particularly in some of the least advantaged areas, by strengthening speech, language and communication skills.

Launched in June this year, free training and support is already underway for schools, childminders, children’s centres and early years settings in eight Derby wards; Abbey, Alvaston, Arboretum, Boulton, Chaddesden, Derwent, Normanton and Sinfin. Some 140 representative Champions are being appointed across all settings to drive the programme forward and information and resources are being provided across the city.

The programme is being co-ordinated by East Midlands based early years consultancy Hempsall’s.

Project Director Kate Freeman said:

“Speech and language are the building blocks for learning. TALK Derby aims to inspire and equip parents and professionals to help children develop as they should. It’s something that benefits us all – in families, communities, education and work.

“I’m delighted to say that the project has already shown improvements in a number of primary, infant and junior schools where the percentage of pupils achieving the required level in reading, writing and maths has increased.

“Every child deserves to have the best opportunities in life and for this to happen, youngsters need to develop their ability to communicate in their earliest years and throughout childhood and adolescence. Most brain growth happens in the first three years of life and research has shown that language at the age of five is linked to employment opportunities at the age of 34 – and that the quality of conversations children have at 18-24 months affects school progress 10 years later. “

TALK Derby is also encouraging everyone in Derby to pledge to spend more time talking and listening to the children in their lives – at mealtimes, during play and through everyday conversations.

The project is funded by the Department for Education until August 2020 as part of the national Opportunity Area programme and is supported by Derby City Council, the Derby Opportunity Area and a wide range of other partners.

Councillor Evonne Williams, Derby City Council Cabinet Member for Children and Young People said:

“TALK Derby is all about inspiring both parents and professionals to help children develop in preparation for a happy and successful life. From a social mobility perspective, this is a vital and significant programme.

“Strong communication in children should never be undervalued. By building on and encouraging these skills, we improve their ability to express feelings and ideas and give them the tools to grow into confident adults.”

Project Director Kate Freeman added:

Simple, relevant and genuinely two-way conversations with children help to build their understanding and communication skills.

“We’re asking the people of Derby to make a conscious commitment to spend more time talking and listening to the children in their lives – and to encourage others to do the same.”

Whatever your role, show your support by making the TALK Derby pledge today.

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What Can You Do?

Straight away

Get more involved

  • Challenge early years providers, schools and colleges in your area to become involved.
  • Signpost information for parents.
  • Become involved in TALK Derby Day (summer 2020).

A bigger challenge

  • Find out how talking with children and young people best supports strong communication skills (visit the website for tips).
  • Hold a pledge-makers’ event.
  • Let us know that you are interested in becoming a TALK Derby Ambassador – support, volunteer, sponsor.