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Communication Skills

Question for Department for Education

UIN 126752, tabled on 21 February 2022

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make it his policy to ensure that any future Early Years Recovery Plan also includes a focus on speaking and understanding language.

Answered on

24 February 2022

Early language acquisition impacts all aspects of young children’s non-physical development. It contributes to their ability to manage emotions and communicate feelings, to establish and maintain relationships, to think symbolically, and to learn to read and write. That is why early language development is at the heart of the department’s early years education recovery programmes.

The department is investing up to £180 million of recovery support in the early years sector through new programmes. The programmes focus on key areas such as speech and language development for the youngest children.

This includes:

  • new, universally accessible online training to upskill practitioners and improve their knowledge of child development;
  • access to mentoring support for early years practitioners to help strengthen children’s teaching and development;
  • an expansion of the Early Years Professional Development Programme, which has a focus on early language, as well as maths and personal, social, and emotional development
  • a significant expansion of the number of staff in group-based providers and childminders, with an accredited level 3 special educational needs coordinator qualification. This will lead to better identification of special education needs and disabilities (SEND), and better support for children with SEND;
  • the Nuffield Early Language Intervention, which is a proven programme aimed at reception-aged children needing extra support with speech and language development. It includes training for staff on identifying speech and language difficulties, and is proven to help children make around three months of additional progress. Two thirds of all primary schools are signed up to deliver this programme;
  • the review of the Early Years Educator level 3 qualification, which will explore ways to strengthen SEND expertise in the workforce; and
  • programmes to train early years practitioners to support parents with the home learning environment, and improve children’s early language and social and emotional development by giving priority to families that would benefit the most.
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