City’s Early Talk for York speech and language programme wins national award

York’s Early Talk for York children’s speech and language programme has won the coveted ‘Learning Award’ at the Children and Young People Now Awards. The national award recognises the programme’s contribution to improving educational outcomes.

A partnership between City of York Council and York and Scarborough NHS Foundation Trust, the Early Talk for York programme aims to help tackle inequalities through improving speech, language and communication outcomes for children under five years of age.

Over four years, the programme has supported around 4,000 children and the school readiness gap has fallen to 2.5%, which judges described as ‘very impressive results’.

Earlier in the month, the impact of the programme was recognised locally, when over 130 early years experts from across York gathered at the inaugural Early Talk for York conference to celebrate and learn together.

Practitioners and leaders from across education, health, care and communities came together to celebrate the success of the programme and to learn about more ways in which children’s early communication skills can be developed.

The conference heard how children benefitting from the full Early Talk for York approach are achieving better outcomes now than before the Covid pandemic, which is in stark contrast to peers regionally and nationally.  Martin Kelly OBE, City of York Council’s Corporate Director of Children and Education, spoke of the vital importance of getting it right from these earliest days.

Councillor Bob Webb, City of York Council’s Executive Member for Children, Young People and Education, attended the conference.

He explained how important it is to continue to build on the work of the Early Talk for York programme:

 “We know that early communication and language development is particularly important in helping to tackle inequalities. Supporting high quality skills and learning for all is one of our council priorities and I’m pleased that the Early Talk for York programme is already helping to close the attainment gap between disadvantaged children in York and their peers. By sharing learning and best practice across the city and beyond, we can start to embed positive generational change across the city.”