TALK Derby 2019 - 2020

TALK Derby is a Government-funded Opportunity Area programme to help local children and young people to develop the speech, language and communication (SLC) skills they need to succeed in school, work and life.

During 2019-2020 we took on the role of establishing and coordinating the programme on behalf of Derby City Council. A role that we transferred on 31 August 2020 to Derby City Council.

In April 2019 when we started what was a big programme, a huge challenge and a large investment, with short timescales and an important impact to make. The key focus has been raising early years quality, improving SLC practice, and supporting family engagement for better outcomes. We have done this through working with many schools, early years settings and childminders. As well as raising awareness for improved public, business, parent and practitioner understanding.

Before we ended, the programme started to show all sorts of impacts on practice, awareness and practitioner confidence. The University of Wolverhampton interim evaluation report (February 2020) showed practitioner confidence in helping children to develop their talking skills growing from 18% to 78% after training. Our mailbox was full of amazing comments and impacts across the sector.

To achieve this, all partners, providers and schools were quick to act, flexible in delivery, and committed to open and honest partnership working and communication. All done through challenging times. Our advisory group members from long-established programmes across the country were amazed at the progress achieved, including our pace, reach, engagement and participation levels. Our website developed and maintained by SDSA became the hub of information for the programme and linked to extensive social media content managed by Arch Communications.

“The Talk Derby project has been successful in drawing together expertise around early speech, language and communication needs and ensuring focussed initiatives in this area have joined together. The project has quickly established a ‘buzz’ around early communication and given practitioners a voice to share their good practice and to access further support. I am hopeful that this will be the catalyst for continued focus on this much needed topic and will become firmly embedded across Derby”. Janet Cooper, Clinical Lead Speech/Language Therapist, Stoke Speaks Out!

Very many schools, early years settings and childminders from across the whole city have met the challenge by becoming one of 150+ Champions, by undertaking the Better Communication Balanced System, and attending lots of training from Elklan. This means the programme will have a unique opportunity to impact upon the practice of practitioners and teachers and ultimately increase the number of children reached.

Of course, COVID-19 significantly impacted on what we all might have achieved in our final months. But things have carried on, online and even TALK Derby DAY on 1 July 2020 achieved a special focus and a real ‘ball of energy’ around these important issues. We know the difference made so far will continue, and the commitment of Derby City Council will take the programme in a new direction.

By spending more time talking and listening to children and young people, we can help them build vital communication skills that help with their learning, education and opportunities into adulthood.

Childcare Works