Children who need additional help with their early speech and communication skills are set to benefit from a Nottingham City Council initiative to improve training for early years professionals.

The council has been successful in securing £186,500 through a joint funding bid in partnership with Derby City and Leicester City. The funding will be used to support families by training experts such as health visitors, early years staff and family support workers. These professionals will be better equipped to identify children with poor language and communication skills and to make sure they have the right support in place.

Children who start school with poor speech and communication skills often fall behind and struggle to catch up. The specialist project has been designed to address this problem and help improve children’s outcomes by age five to ensure they have the language skills needed to thrive. 

The project will:

– share expertise, resources, tools and techniques to boost children’s language and communication skills.

– bring education and health services closer together, to have lasting impact for children today and also for future generations.

Alison Michalska, Director of Childrens Services at Nottingham City Council, said: “We want all of Nottingham’s children to have the best start in life. Unfortunately we know that, even before they start school, some of our children are already behind when it comes to communication and language development. This project will give the Early Years workforce the skills and confidence they need to boost children’s language and communication skills, helping our children to go on to reach their full potential.”

In Nottingham in 2013, 64.3% of all children achieved the expected level of development for communication and language and literacy (combined) compared to 70.8% of all children nationally. 

The latest figures show that 67.8% of Nottingham children achieve the expected level of development for communication and language and literacy (combined) compared to 72.4% of all children nationally. 

So over the last five years the gap between Nottingham and children nationally has shrunk from 6.5% to 4.6%. It’s good news that Nottingham is closing the gap with national figures year on year but more work is needed and the funding boost will help these improvements.