The government have set a clear ambition to halve the proportion of children who do not achieve at least expected levels across all goals in ‘communication and language’ and ‘literacy’ areas of learning at the end of reception year by 2028.

It is planned for this aspiration to be achieved through a new national initiative called ‘Chat Play Read’. It is acknowledged that this requires a society-wide approach to promoting early language development and early literacy skills. We have an early years sector to be proud of, underpinned by the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). Parents, virtually all, want the best for their children and we need to do more as 28% of children currently leave reception without the communication and literacy skills they need to thrive.  

Chat, Play, Read acknowledges that we need to support language development in all areas of a child’s life, not just the hours they spend in early years settings. We know that the development of language is most significantly affected by a positive home learning environment which consists of the physical aspect of the home and the interactions between parent and child within and around the home.

Torbay is ranked as the most deprived local authority in the South West with 1 in 4 children are living in poverty.

There is a specific and growing challenge as more children starting school have higher speech, language and communication needs compared with the rest of the country.

Unfortunately for Torbay, this means a higher risk of long term social and emotional problems as this group of children grows up.

The Early Years and Childcare Advisory Service (EYCAS) are rolling out ‘Chat, Play, Read’ across Torbay working with early year’s children in schools, pre-school settings, Children’s Centres and Toddler Groups. The aim for the EYCAS team is to support practitioners to improve children’s good level of development within the Early Learning Goals for ‘communication and language’ and ‘literacy’ areas of learning at the end of reception year by 2028.  

The EYCAS team are also targeting specific support in wards with high numbers of 2 year olds. This is an ongoing project over three years (September 2019-July 2022) where children’s progress will be tracked to measure the impact. The project is called ‘Two and Ready.’

The information in this article relates to the document ‘Improving the home learning environment - A behaviour change approach’ November 2018 (HM Government and National Literacy Trust)