The University of Derby partners with I CAN to support local children’s communication development

7 March 2018

I CAN and The University of Derby have collaborated with partnership schools in Derbyshire and surrounding localities to support children’s speech and language through delivering innovative training for staff and support to pupils.

Opportunities through the Initial Teacher Education (ITE) programme enables the joint training of students with their placement school mentors in Talk Boost (an evidenced language intervention), which will be carried out by the students on an intensive basis during their placement.

Long term speech, language and communication needs (SLCN), are a major issue for around 10% of children in England. Around half of primary school aged children in some areas of deprivation have delayed language. With Derby ranking 303rd out of 324 in 2016’s Social Mobility Index, many including children’s charity, I CAN, want more to be done.

I CAN’s Chief Executive Bob Reitemeier, CBE, said; “It is disappointing that in some areas of poor social mobility, around half of primary school aged children start school with delayed language, through no fault of their own. The collaboration with The University of Derby is important as it not only highlights this issue but also lays down the foundation for positive early intervention through training and delivering Talk Boost to these children. We hope to continue to raise awareness of the importance of early language skills to trainee students, school teachers, parents and pupils. Ultimately, all children deserve no less than the best support possible to help them reach their full potential.”

University of Derby with various trees and flags

The partnership highlights the link between SLCN and social mobility and helps to improve pupils’ communication skills in Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2.

Shirley Hewitt, Core Programme Leader and Inclusion Co-ordinator ITE at The University of Derby commented on the importance of the partnership; “The University of Derby has been delighted to work in collaboration with I CAN in developing a project which benefits our partnership schools and PGCE students in improving understanding of speech, language and communication needs. The real benefit, however, is for the children who will have focussed speech and language interventions which will, in turn, contribute to raising aspiration and achievement for all. We hope to continue to develop and sustain similar initiatives in the future.”

Students at University of Derby have a three week placement in the spring term where they can be linked with a range of schools with different Ofsted ratings. The aim of this placement is for the students to look at curriculum interventions for a range of pupils, including those with identified special educational needs, including SLCN.

Training is delivered to all teacher mentors by I CAN’s Place Strategy Regional Manager or local licensed tutors, in identification of appropriate children for the Talk Boost interventions. These teachers are also trained alongside their ITE student partners in how to deliver the evidenced intervention (which incorporates small group activities, whole class activities and before and after assessment).