Learning from practice: Speech, language and communication
This section includes practical examples from local areas which have made progress on narrowing the gap on speech, language and communication needs, providing rich learning about the types of programmes and initiatives which have had an impact. With diverse demographics, sizes and regions, the case studies provide useful insights for anyone with an interest in supporting disadvantaged children on speech, language and communication development.
Jean Gross CBE summarises what we learned from speaking with five local authorities who have seen success in reducing the early language gap between disadvantaged children and their peers.
Doncaster's story of improved outcomes in communication and language for children eligible for free school meals. Critical success factors included strategic leadership, integrated working, a focus on the family, early identification and support, professional development, and take-up and quality of early education.
East Sussex's story of improving outcomes for children eligible for free school meals to above the national average. They were one of the first local areas to develop a pathway for speech, language and communication, setting out support that should be available for children in different 0–5 age bands.
Kingston’s communication and language outcomes for disadvantaged children were the second highest in England in 2018. A key contributor to this success was the alignment of SEND services with support for the quality of provision in settings and schools.
Norfolk's story of how they have exceeded the national average on communication and language for children eligible for free school meals. Key factors included developing bespoke, localised approaches, increased use of social media to engage with families, and partnership working across teams to maximise reach.
North Tyneside achieved an 8.3% increase between 2016–18 in children eligible for free school meals achieving the expected level of development in communication and language. Their success was underpinned by a strong programme of work on school readiness.
Learning from practice: Children's centres & family hubs
This section outlines how local areas are delivering early years services through contemporary approaches to children’s centres and family hubs. These resources outline some of the different approaches which respond to local contextual factors.
Stockton-on-Tees' family hubs are for all families and children aged 0–19 years, are based in the community, and host a range of services delivered by the local authority, health services and voluntary sector organisations.
Stockport’s early childhood services are incorporated into their ‘Start Well’ model, which has evolved over time to take account of a review of the use of children’s centres and more recently the integration of health visiting and early years.
This report outlines the approaches taken by eight councils across England, demonstrating some of the different ways in which councils are tackling the challenge of funding reductions, increasing demand and a changing policy landscape for children's centres.