The new £6.5 million fund announced by the Department for Education builds on the previous investment announced in April to improve early language and literacy for disadvantaged children. The funding is designed to offer practical help to parents who need help teaching their children reading, writing and language skills, for example by accessing home visits and online tools.
Voluntary and community groups with a proven track record of breaking down learning barriers for children with additional needs will be able to bid for a share of the fund to run projects that help disadvantaged families and children with additional needs. These children are more likely to experience a ‘word gap’ when they arrive at primary school i.e. a gap in communication skills between disadvantaged children and their peers. This can have a long-term impact on a child’s education. Giving parents the confidence to work with their children on speech and language before they start school has been shown to be one of the most effective ways to ensure children have the right foundations for a successful education.
Projects funded could include, for example:
- Home visits from trained early years professionals, to help parents support their children in learning new words through simple steps like reading and singing nursery rhymes.
- Easy-to-use online tools that help broaden the vocabulary parents use with their babies
Previous successful bidders from the scheme include:
- The National Literacy Trust received a grant to set up Early Years Together at 2, a programme which invites parents and carers into the nursery to watch how children learn and gives them practical ideas of how they can continue this learning at home.
- Home-Start UK received over £400,000 to pilot a ‘word pedometer’ programme which provided disadvantaged families with coaching from trained home visiting volunteers, helping new parents increase the number and quality of words they use when interacting with their babies.
- Funding will be awarded to organisations that can demonstrate that projects will be self-sustaining, to ensure they will last to support future generations of children.
The minimum grant available per project will be £250,000 and there is no upper level of funding that can be applied for. The funding is being made available through the Department for Education’s Early Years Disadvantage (VCS) Grant and the closing date for applications is the 27th July 2018.