The importance of developing early language skills

Some of you may have read recently about research which shows that children with poor language skills at age five are significantly more likely to struggle with maths and literacy at age 11. Conducted by the Institute of Education on behalf of Save the Children, the study analyses progress data from 5,000 children and showed that 23% of children who struggled with language at age five did not reach expected levels in SATs in literacy at age 11, and 21% didn’t achieved the expected grade in maths.

The study indicates that children who start school without being able to tell a short story, express feelings and communicate easily with a wide range of adults will be strongly disadvantaged, regardless of family background.

I am currently compiling some information to show how you can support your child with their language development at home, including improving attention and listening skills, broadening vocabulary and cultivating better social communication. This information will be available on this site as well as in the form of a leaflet.

Wellbeing and mental health

Last week I took part in training on how to use the new Wellbeing Toolkit for schools. This is a comprehensive pack looking at developing the wellbeing and mental health of a whole school community as well as providing assessment, support and interventions for those children who may have specific, or more complex, difficulties. Together with our Parental Support Advisor/Play Therapist, Jane Smith, who has been attending Mindfulness training, we will be introducing these concepts to the whole staff in the next few weeks. More information will appear on the website shortly with a view to running some parent workshops later this year. Please could you let me know if there is anything you would particularly like information about?
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Independent advice service for parents

If you have a child with special educational needs or disabilities and would like some independent support or advice you can contact Information Advice and Support Kent (IASK). The service offers confidential and impartial advice and information and could be helpful in the following ways:
• give you time to discuss issues and explore your options
• help you put across your views and concerns
• give you advice about SEN support in schools
• provide advice about education law
• support you during the Educational Health and Care needs assessment process
• help you write letters and complete forms
• help support you at meetings
• provide support with appeals
• explain disagreement resolution processes
• help to manage mediation
• provide information about other agencies
You can contact IASK by phone on 03000 41300 or by email on iask@kent.gov.uk
Leaflets containing more details about this service are available in school.

What is new in 2016?

We’ve hit the ground running this week with all interventions starting from the first day of term!

In 2016 we will be involved in a number of special projects or research initiatives. These include co-leading research into different ways of using pupil premium funding to support learners from disadvantaged backgrounds. Details of this will shortly be available under the pupil premium section.

The eighteen-month Language for Learning project (we were one of six schools selected to take part in this area) will soon be coming to an end. This has involved training staff and developing awareness and resources to support all pupils in developing attention, processing instructions, vocabulary and social communication skills. As an extension of this we will now be working towards the Balance for Schools award, part of which will involve helping parents to know how they can support their children in developing these skills. More information will follow later this month.

Just arrived! A range of books specially developed for older readers with a slightly lower reading age. These books are well known titles from good authors but have been adapted to be more accessible for children with reading difficulties such as dyslexia.

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