It will see the four Black Country councils work with the National Literacy Trust to improve training for professionals including early years teachers, health visitors and speech therapists, and introduce pop up early literacy hubs for parents across the Black Country.
It will also create a new early years ‘vision’ to best support children in parts of the region where literacy is lowest, and introduce an online tool to help parents understand the different child development stages, offer ideas for activities to do at home and signpost them to useful information and resources.
Meredith Teasdale, the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Director of Education, said: “This is a great opportunity for us to coordinate support and resources for everyone involved in working with families from birth to five years old to help improve speech, communication and language, and to ensure all children have the language skills needed to thrive at school.
“Historically, performance in communication and language across the Black Country has been relatively weak, with two thirds of pupils in the region achieving a Good Level of Development at Early Years Foundation Stage Phonics last year, compared to national rates of 72%.
“As a council, we are determined to ensure that our children and young people get the best possible start in life, and this project will help ensure that they don’t fall behind when it comes to their speaking and listening skills.”
The £516,000 project was one of only eight across the country to receive a share of £6.5m from the Government’s Early Outcomes Fund to support children with early communication difficulties.
The City of Wolverhampton Council submitted the application on behalf of the four Black Country councils, with Early Years leads from all four councils along with speech and language therapists, school nurse and public health colleagues contributing to the successful bid.