Vb Blog

Changing our national story – CEO Virginia Beardshaw

Last week I was sharing a story with my gorgeous godson. Talking about stories and pictures is one of the most important things that grownups can do with the children in their lives. Stories feed young imaginations and build bonds across the generations.

They also build the language skills that are the foundation for reading.

Today I CAN joins with Save the Children, the National Literacy Trust, Beanstalk, and the other organisations that make up the Read On. Get On. coalition to press for the next Parliament to introduce a raft of measures that will help children develop the language and literacy skills they need to survive and thrive in a 21st century world.

This is because we badly need to change our national story.

A fifth of all children in England and close to a third of the poorest children are unable to read well when they leave primary school. Across Europe, only Romania has a worse record than we do.

And early language development is critical to the development of children’s literacy skills at primary school. A child’s language skills at the age of two has a strong influence on their school readiness at the age of five and beyond.

Children from disadvantaged backgrounds tend to have weaker early language skills than their better off peers. On average, children from low income families are nearly 12 months behind in vocabulary than children from better off families by the time they start school.

Changing this dismal story demands action across many fronts from whom ever forms our new government after 7 May. Chief amongst the Read On. Get On. coalition’s asks is investment in early years education. Read the Power Of Reading Report here.

At I CAN we want at least one staff member in every nursery to have a Level 3 qualification in children’s speech, language and communication – something that will also mean that staff can work with parents to ensure they have the skills and confidence to support their child’s language development at home.

This, coupled with universal whole-setting training like I CAN’s Early Language Development Programme, will be a sound first step by the new administration to address the waste of all the young lives damaged by being left behind in their language skills and their reading.

As the new government takes up power we’ve got to change that sad story.