More than £750,000 to improve early language skills for children in the county
Gloucestershire County Council has received over three quarters of a million pounds from the Department of Education to improve speech, language and communication skills in young children before they start school.
On average, children who are four months behind their peers at the age of five fall an additional six months behind by the age of 11. This disadvantage grows by a further nine months by the age of 16.
Around £350,000 will be used by the county council in partnership with Swindon Borough Council to develop a programme of support, which will help children and families who are at risk of, or displaying early signs of, difficulty with language development.
By working together, the two councils will be able to share resources and expertise to give children from birth to two-years-old the fundamental skills they need to thrive.
Using evidence and insight on how best to connect with children and their families, the programme will be rolled out through ‘stay and play’ groups, music and rhyme sessions, parenting programmes, and increased home visits and family support workers.
In addition, further funding awarded to the county council will be used to help to provide vital training to develop Early Years professionals working with children up to the time that they start school.
This funding will be used to set up partnerships of schools and Early Years settings, like pre-schools and nurseries, in areas with the highest numbers of disadvantaged and vulnerable children.
Each partnership will have ‘champions’ who will receive training to improve children’s early language and literacy before they start in Reception. The champions will then train all professionals in the partnership to create a highly skilled workforce across the county.
Cllr Mark Hawthorne, Leader of Gloucestershire County Council said, “We are committed to making sure that children start school with the right skills in place to give them the best chance to reach their full potential. This additional funding will build on the practices already in place and will give parents more confidence to work with their children on speech and language, which studies show is one of the most effective ways to make sure children start school with the right foundations in place.”
Last year, the Education Secretary set the ambition to halve the proportion of children who finished Reception without the communication, language and literacy skills needed to thrive within the next decade.
The funding is part of the Department for Education’s £8.5 million Early Years local government programme, which is improving how local health and education services work together to improve children’s early language, communication and speech.