Government funding to boost early years language skills


Parents are set to receive additional support to help boost language and learning skills at home, education secretary Damian Hinds has announced.

A multi-million-pound fund aims to address the ‘word gap’ to ensure that young children from disadvantaged areas can start school on a level par with their peers.

It comes after research found that those from disadvantaged backgrounds were behind their peers when first entering the classroom at primary school.

Two schemes will focus on enhancing the confidence of parents so that they feel capable of supporting their youngsters with reading and language learning.

The first, totalling £5 million and run by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), will include trials with advice and practical tools for parents on how to help children learn new words.

A further £8.5 million programme is available for local authorities to support literacy development and early language skills for those from disadvantaged areas.

Mr Hinds said the government is keen to ensure that all children have a good start in life and that their parents are equipped with the skills to help them master writing, language and reading.

“This new support will help parents with early language at home by giving them practical advice on activities like reading and learning the alphabet which are so important in making sure no child is left behind,” he added.

The attainment gap has narrowed in primary and secondary schools since 2010 while Mr Hinds said that English children are also rising up the international literacy tables.

The EEF is set to trial protects in the north of England and will predominantly focus on developing skills among children that are set to start primary school.

Originally unveiled in the Unlocking Talent, Fulfilling Potential report, published in December 2017, the measures will focus on areas that need the most support.

Sir Kevan Collins, chief executive of the EEF, said that the trials will provide much-needed information regarding the tools and methods that parents require to help their children.

“Parents care very much about the future of their children, whatever their background or wherever they come from. But it can sometimes be difficult to get them involved in their child’s learning and we know little about how to do this well,” he explained.