Through its Foundation Fund, St John’s is financially supporting a brand-new initiative to support improving the speech and language outcomes for under 5s.
Launching this September, the Language for Life project will be delivered in partnership by Virgin Care and Bath and North East Somerset Council’s Early Years team. The project will focus on supporting pre-school children to reach age-related expectations in communication and language development before they transition into Primary School settings in Bath and Keynsham.
Language for Life will offer a refreshed, area-specific early years approach to speech and language development. With the support of a newly appointed Lead Speech and Language Therapist, Early Years practitioners will be offered the opportunity to adopt the Wellcomm communications and language toolkit; an evidence-based assessment and intervention programme designed for use by early years practitioners with no additional specialist skills needed.
David Hobdey, Chief Executive of St John’s Foundation said “The charity is excited to be a part of the Language of Life project, which was formally launched at an online event on the 6th July; it forms part of a suite of new programmes St John’s is supporting to address educational inequality in Bath and North East Somerset to ensure all children access the right start in life. Speech and language development in young children is critical and is fundamental in providing children with the communication skills they require to manage their emotions, behaviours and supports them to learn. Children from less advantaged backgrounds will typically have weaker speech and language skills than other more advantaged children, even at the age of two. The Language for Life project is aimed at children from 18 months of age; it is vital to address this gap at an early age since it widens and becomes increasingly harder to close as children age.”
Councillor Dine Romero, cabinet member for Children and Young People, Communities and Culture at Bath and North East Somerset Council, said: “This exciting project aims to equip early years practitioners with the specialist support and resources to really focus on closing the word gap that impacts on children’s later outcomes. We believe that all children deserve the best start in life and that’s what Language for Life is all about.”
Claire Galloway from Virgin Care who will be delivering the contract added “Following the successful launch event of Language for Life we are excited to continue to the next phase of the project working collaboratively with early years settings, families and the wider early years workforce. This is an amazing opportunity for us to work with our colleagues from partner agencies to make a real difference to the outcomes of children with speech, language and communication needs and their families”.
The Language for Life project is closely linked to the Foundation Fund’s Primary Empowerment Programme, which aims to support the development of primary school-aged children, providing additional support for reading, writing, oracy and mathematics as well as support with emotional and behavioural needs.