Parental confidence project sees children’s communication and language skills improve

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Almost all early years children taking part in a pilot SHINE project at four Bradford primary schools had achieved the expected standard for communication and language skills by the end of the initiative.

At one school, Beckfoot Allerton, none of the participating children were at the expected level in communication and language development or personal, social and emotional development when they first joined Passport to Confidence. By the end of the project, 100% had reached the expected standard, and are on track to succeed at school.

It was a similar story at other schools involved in the project. Analysis shows that each child involved has made significant improvements in these academic areas.

Passport to Confidence was a two-year project, funded by SHINE, which involved schools within the Beckfoot Trust working together to improve the communication and language skills of 0-5-year-olds and increase parental confidence in helping their children develop these skills.

Parents say their confidence has grown through taking part in the project, enabling them to play a more effective role in their children’s education.

One participating parent said: “My son has a routine now. After his dinner, he asks me for his box of activities and sits with me to complete two every day. I let him choose and he lets his younger sister join in too. I have gained a lot of confidence in delivering these activities due to all the practice and support I have received during the sessions.”

A skilled early years teacher led sessions, showing parents activities they could do with their children. Parents were also shown how they could share the activities with other parents.

Project lead Jaswinder “Jas” Kaur said: “Initially parents were shy and unsure but gained confidence with practice.”

Jas created “how-to guides” to support the parents in leading the sessions.

She said: “The support they have for each other will ensure that those who are less confident in leading the session can still participate and possibly entice other, quieter parents.”

The parents taking part are keen for the sessions to continue. One said: “We really felt as a group that we needed to continue this and have started our own Friends of Phoenix group hoping that other parents can join and learn all that Jas has taught us during the past months.”

A timetabled weekly space in each school will ensure that these parents can continue to support others in the coming months and years.

Parents and children on the project

Jas said: “Many of the families and parents involved in this project have highlighted how isolated they felt before joining Passport to Confidence and how meeting people from their own community helped them to feel ‘part of something’.”

Another parent said: “I have learnt so much and feel that it has really turned me into a confident adult. I have had the opportunity to come to school and build relationships with the other parents which are unbelievably valuable to me.”

Planned trips and visits to places within their local communities helped the parents to develop stronger relationships with one another.

Parents discovered what they could easily and safely access on their local doorstep, whether that be a cup of coffee in the local church together or a trip to the local park with their children.

Feedback from the parents and families involved in the project has been overwhelmingly positive.

A celebration ceremony was held to mark the end of the project, which, said Jas, “really highlighted the developing confidence from the parents”.

She added: “Several parents from each school spoke in front of 40 people – many unknown to them) about the impact of the project on them and their children. Many became emotional as they spoke, supported by their fellow participants.”

Most children involved in this project have made either expected or accelerated progress towards their end-of-year academic goals. This has been supported by parents following the programme effectively, knowing and seeing the impact they are having on their children.

Jaswinder “Jas” Kaur Passport to Confidence project lead

In conclusion, Jas said: “Our parents genuinely want to support their children and have high aspirations for them but often don’t know how to help them achieve this. Many of our targeted parents either didn’t have a positive experience of education themselves or were educated in another country and did not know what they needed to do to support their children.

“Many expressed that having a clear activity shared with them and the opportunity to practice this, in a safe space, allowed them to develop the confidence needed to work with their children successfully. Seeing their children flourish helped to further develop parents’ confidence and build better family relationships.

“Most children involved in this project have made either expected or accelerated progress towards their end-of-year academic goals. This has been supported by parents following the programme effectively, knowing and seeing the impact they are having on their children.

“Relationships created either in individual schools or across schools have really shown that our parents are keen to be involved in their children’s development and just need support ad guidance to do this effectively.

“Meeting parents on their terms is key to maintaining their engagement. Also, using a recognised electronic platform for communicating with parents really helped.”

The Beckfoot Trust is keen to continue building the established practice into its work. It will continue to connect the parents with one another and their schools, building their confidence and, in turn, improving the communication and language skills of their children.