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Ten Tips for Talking launched to help close early years speech and language gap

FAMILIES across Greater Manchester are being supported with the launch of new resources to help parents and communities with developing their child’s speech and language skills. 

Greater Manchester’s Ten Tips for Talking, is a set of evidence-based key messages for families, early years practitioners and the wider community which promotes interaction between young children and their families, from birth to age 5, to support early years development.

The Ten Tips for Talking are part of Greater Manchester’s school readiness work, which is funded by the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership. The ambitious programme aims to improve outcomes for young children and their families, and ensure every child achieves their potential.  

Speech and language are the building blocks for school readiness. Research shows that if the first three years of a child’s life aren’t filled with sound and language, they will struggle to thrive in later life. Children who’s speech and language skills are behind their peers will find it harder  to adapt to the school environment and start learning, which is why speech, language and communication is a particular focus of the city-region’s school readiness work.

Nearly 20 per cent of all children nationally and nearly 22 per cent of children in Greater Manchester arrive at school without the language and communication ability to thrive. In deprived areas, that figure doubles to almost 40 per cent across the UK.

It’s recognised that children who start school behind their peers are more likely to fall further behind and experience poorer outcomes in life.  To ensure all children have the best start in life, Greater Manchester has embarked on a wide-reaching programme to close the school readiness gap in our communities.

Data from 2019 shows that Greater Manchester has made positive progress and closed the school readiness gap for children who receive free school meals. But the social and economic impact of COVID-19 threatens to deepen inequalities for young children and families, especially those from more disadvantaged backgrounds. Work within the Greater Manchester school readiness programme is focussing on how to support families during this time, providing tips and advice for parents to help support their child’s development. 

Ten Tips for Talking is one of a number of initiatives that have been put in place across Greater Manchester to support families during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ten Tips for Talking will also be translated into a number of the different languages spoken across Greater Manchester and produced in an accessible, easy read format.

The launch of Ten Tips for Talking supports the national rollout of the BBC’s Tiny Happy People campaign. Developed in partnership with Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), this is a suite of free digital resources aimed at families and professionals working with pre-schoolers and comprises tips and advice, activities and short films to help close the pre-school language and communication gap.

In response to COVID-19, the BBC has created a range of new advice and resources to support parents and carers through these challenging times.

Greater Manchester Combined Authority and local authorities have also worked with the BBC to develop online stay and play sessions that have been shared on Facebook. These are aimed at young children who would normally attend sessions offered by local Children’s Centres.

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham said: “Greater Manchester has already done so much pioneering work to tackle the issue of school readiness, working together innovatively and doing things differently to make sure no child is left behind. This is having a positive impact on families across Greater Manchester and we need to make sure we don’t lose this momentum, despite the pandemic.

“We know that speech, language and communication is vital to giving a child the best start in life, enabling them to thrive throughout their lives. Our Ten Tips for Talking, complemented by the BBC Tiny Happy People’s interactive resources, will be a huge help to the hundreds of families who have been unable to access traditional early years provision during this challenging time.”

Greater Manchester’s Lead for Young People, Councillor Eamonn O’Brien said: “Our children across Greater Manchester deserve the best start in life. There is so much focus on opportunities when they leave school and decide whether to go to university or start working but we need to ensure that they are fully equipped with the speech, language and communication that they need to get on in life.

“The Tiny Happy People campaign is a great way to encourage parents, carers and professionals who live and work with our children to educate them and help close the gap.”

Article Published: 14/07/2020 08:08 AM