Childcare providers in York are celebrating their achievements in helping to improve children’s speech and language development.
Organisations across the city are being invited to get involved in Early Talk for York – a programme run jointly by the council and York and Scarborough Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
The Early Talk for York programme focuses on helping childcare professionals to recognise problems with, and improve, the speech, language and communication development of children up to the age of five years of age. Good communication skills at five are strongly associated with a range of positive whole of life outcomes; including literacy levels, employment, mental and physical health and wellbeing.
St Paul’s Nursery School in Holgate, Wigginton Primary School and The Wonder Years pre school in Wigginton have all achieved accredited ‘Communication Friendly Setting’ status, recognising their work to support children with their speech and language development.
As part of the Early Talk for York programme, staff gained additional qualifications and learned to use tools to help identify any problems with the speech and language of children in their care, and to address them quickly.
Cllr Andrew Waller, City of York Council’s Executive Member for Children, Young People and Education, said:
For the city’s children to reach their full potential they need the best start to school, and it is great to see the Early Talk for York being adopted by early years providers to provide outstanding support for children’s speech and language development, and helping to tackle attainment gaps.
"This scheme identifies early needs, and supports families as well as children, and recognises the link between communication skills, and overall achievements later in life.
“I’d like to thank all of those involved for their hard work in making Early Talk for York a real success story for our city. By working together and sharing expertise this will ensure that all children in York have a better start in life.”
Claire Rigden, headteacher of St Paul’s Nursery School said:
The size of a child’s vocabulary at age 5 is a strong predictor of academic success in later life.
"The power of learning how, through language, to articulate your wants and needs, share thoughts and feelings and make friends cannot be underestimated.
“Replicating the Early Talk for York approach has been a truly enjoyable journey for us. Being able to now support other settings beginning on the journey is an exciting prospect and it would be amazing for York if all settings had this accolade.”
Paul Laycock, headteacher of Wigginton Primary School said:
"When we heard about the Early Talk for York, we immediately wanted to be involved.
"Speech, language and communication development is key to pupils' learning; the limited opportunities to socialise during lockdowns have made it more difficult for children to build their skills.
"Through the programme, we have seen a significant difference in the vocabulary children are able to use, identification of need, targeted support, and our already experienced team have been able to enhance their skills further and deliver training to others.
“Now our Early Years is a 'Communication Friendly Setting', we are confident that we will continue to see the benefits for years to come."
Brydie Fox, Manager of The Wonder Years said:
Early Talk for York has been effective in building on one of the defining strengths of The Wonder Years.
"In reinforcing the communication and language support that our children and families receive, this has become an opportunity to collaborate deeper with our feeder school, allowing children to enjoy a seamless journey through their early years education and onward.”
Work is ongoing to make Early Talk for York available to everyone working with early years aged children across the city.
St Paul’s Nursery School is already helping other early years settings across the city to further improve their speech and language support to children.
Martin Cumming, Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Co-ordinator at St Paul’s Nursery School, said:
Early Talk for York has given us the opportunity and privilege to work with colleagues and other settings across the city.
"We have been sharing the skills and knowledge that we have learned through this approach and supporting others in setting up provision within their own nurseries.
"Speech, language and communication as a focus is vital in supporting children in their early development and we look forward to deepening our collaboration with others in the coming year.”