£8.5m fund to improve early language and literacy development

Education Secretary Damian Hinds has announced that an £8.5 million programme has opened for local authorities to fund projects to improve early language and literacy development for disadvantaged children.

As part of a wider scheme to help parents improve their children’s early language and literacy skills at home before they start primary school, the government has also announced a new £5million scheme, to be run by the Education Endowment Foundation, to trial projects to provide practical tools and advice to parents so they can help their children learn new words through simple steps like reading and singing nursery rhymes. This will seek to close the ‘word gap’ - the gap in communication skills between disadvantaged children and their peers when they start school.

Hinds said: “This government wants every child to have the best start in life which means mastering the basics of speaking, reading and writing at an early age. It is important that parents and families can feel confident about supporting their children so they can start school with the appropriate level of language and social skills. This new support will help parents with early language learning 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.”

Roy Perry, vice chairman of the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People Board, said: “We are very pleased that the government has announced funding for a new LGA peer review programme of sector-led support which will share and promote good practice and knowledge across councils. Councils are absolutely determined to make sure that children get the best start in life. This is why we need to close ‘the word gap’ in the early years, by focusing on key early language and literacy skills, so that all children can begin school ready to thrive.”

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