Improving pupils’ communication skills with Achievement for All 3As by I CAN Communication Advisor, Maxine Burns

At the beginning of this month, I CAN announced their new partnership with education charity Achievement for All 3As. This project will mean the two charities working closely together to help primary and secondary schools throughout England improve their pupils’ communication skills. Since communication is the foundation life skill and underpins all areas of children’s learning, including reading and writing, this groundbreaking work has the potential to make a big impact.

We know how closely poor language and social disadvantage are linked. For example, vocabulary at age 5 is the best predictor of whether children who experience social deprivation in childhood are able to ‘buck the trend’ and escape poverty in later adult life. Research has also looked at children with poor oral language skills at age 5. Without support, by the time they are 14 the gap between them and their peers has widened to five years’ difference in reading age, making achievement at secondary school a huge challenge.

I CAN and Achievement for All 3A’s share the vision to make this gap a thing of the past. This exciting project will combine the skills and experience of I CAN Communication Advisors and specialist Achievement Coaches, resulting in the opportunity for even better outcomes for all children and young people, including those with poor language skills.

One of the most exciting things for me though, is that I’m the Communication Advisor who will be working ‘at ground level’ with coaches! Together, we will be delivering a range of

I CAN programmes to some of the 1500 schools already working with Achievement for All 3As. I’ll be training coaches to deliver Talk Boost, our intervention for children aged 4-7 years with language delay. I’ll also be introducing our school development programmes Primary Talk and Secondary Talk to add the language and communication dimension to the support that they already receive from the Achievement for All 3As programme.

So whilst I will be having a summer break at some point, I’ll also be gearing up to visit Newbury, Achievement for All 3As headquarters, to train some coaches and to work with my co-lead there to spread the ‘communication word’ to a whole group of new primary and secondary schools in September. I can’t wait!