A grant of more than £50,000 from SHINE will help children across Teesside ‘get the best possible start at school’.
Seven primary schools, in Hartlepool, Middlesbrough and Stockton-on-Tees, will take part in a project that aims to improve the speech, language and communication skills of three and four-year-olds.
Evidence shows that if children with delayed speech, language and communication are identified early and given the right support, they make good progress. For pre-school children who have delayed language, this can mean that they catch up with other children.
In five out of the seven schools – which are all part of the Ad Astra Academy Trust – two thirds of pupils enter Reception with below expected levels for speaking.
And Middlesbrough as a whole has the lowest percentage in England of early years children achieving the expected levels in communication and language.
It is feared that Covid will have worsened the issue, with young children having had less opportunity to mix and communicate with others.
Philippa Kermotschuk, Deputy Lead for School Improvement with Ad Astra Academy Trust, said: “We are seeing an increasing number of children entering our schools with below average speech and language skills.
“We want to ensure that all of our children get off to the best possible start at school and this funding will help us to focus on the children who need additional support to bring their speech and language skills to the required level.”