£1m South Yorkshire project to boost communication and speech in under-fives

Project to boost speech and communication in under-fives
Project to boost speech and communication in under-fives

A new £1m project to improve speech and language development for under-fives has launched in South Yorkshire.

Sheffield Hallam University has joined forces with the region's four local authorities to reshape early years speech and language services in a bid to improve language skills among the under-fives.

The university's social mobility partnership, South Yorkshire Futures, will lead the new £1 million project along with Doncaster Council, which has been funded by the Department for Education.

The partnership will initially review existing services to see how they currently assess children's language and speech skills and gather data. They will then look at how current systems could be improved to provide the best support for children and families.

The project team will oversee the development and implementation of a sustainable regional strategy to meet speech, language and communication needs, delivered by multidisciplinary teams including professionals from education and health.  A regional training team will also be established to identify any skills gaps across South Yorkshire and then provide tailored courses to train up the workforce.

Research has shown too many children in the region are failing to achieve early learning goals with 4,650 children in South Yorkshire not achieving the expected level of development in communications, language and literacy in 2018.

The aim of the project is to ensure that children receive the help they need in the early years in order to be able to thrive. The project has been funded as part of a wider national DfE initiative which will see £6.5million for councils to support children with early communication difficulties.

Professor Sir Chris Husbands, vice-chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University, said: “If we are serious about tackling social mobility and raising educational attainment, it is vital that we work collaboratively across our region to give our children the best possible start.”