New Derby project to boost children’s speech, language and communication skills
A major new Government programme has been launched in Derby to improve the education and future job opportunities of local children.
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.
Information and resources will be provided widely, with additional free training and support for schools, childminders, children’s centres and early years settings in eight Derby wards – Abbey, Alvaston, Arboretum, Boulton, Chaddesden, Derwent, Normanton and Sinfin.
TALK Derby is 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 £845,000 programme is funded by the Department for Education through the Derby Opportunity Area and will run until September next year.
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.”
140 people who work with local children in the eight target wards are being recruited as “champions” to drive the project forward. Trained staff will lead effective early years practice and work with parents and wider families, to encourage them to have more of the right kind of interactions with their children.
The programme is being co-ordinated by Leicester-based early years consultancy Hempsall’s. Project Director Kate Freeman 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.”
Most brain growth happens in the first three years of life. 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.
Derby is as an Opportunity Area because local children from disadvantaged backgrounds have less chance of doing well at school and getting a good job. The city is 316th in the Social Mobility Commission’s Index of 324 local authority areas.
Councillor Evonne Williams, Derby City Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People added:
“We know that social mobility is an issue in the city and TALK Derby is another piece of the puzzle to tackle it. The Opportunity Area has proved really valuable. The early results are really positive and I believe that this project will also prove a success.”
Speech and language training specialists Elklan are delivering accredited courses for early years practitioners to develop children’s skills and enhance engagement with families.
Elklan Director Liz Elks said,
More information – including how to take the TALK Derby Pledge – can be found at https://talkderby.org.uk/.
“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.”