Tuesday, 21 June, 2016 - 10:31

Language, speech and communication is a key developmental outcome area for the A Better Start programme.

On Tuesday 14th and Wednesday 15th June 2016, A Better Start partners and staff gathered for a Learning and Development event, focused on the A Better Start outcome of Language and Communication. The event was co-hosted by Better Start Bradford at the famous Alhambra Theatre, and included all the A Better Start sites.

Experts and inspirational speakers delivered presentations on the latest research, policy and practice in the field of speech, language and communication. There was opportunity for attendees to share learning and ideas and to make connections, with table discussions on “How well are current A Better Start activities addressing inequalities in early language development?” and “How could we promote a culture of talking with babies?”

The conveners hope these events will also enable professionals to apply the learning to their own work, so that as well as bringing in learning from the outside world, it may be captured and shared beyond the A Better Start programme.

The presenters were:  

Jean Gross, CBE. Jean is the former Government Communication Champion for children, and spoke about ‘Giving children a better start through early language and communication development’.

Professor Julie Dockrell from University College London gave a presentation on ‘Understanding inequalities in early language and communication. How are ABS activities addressing inequalities?’

Dr Michelle Peter from the ESRC International Centre for Language and Communicative Development (LuCiD) opened the second day of the event with her presentation titled: ‘Talk to your baby: how adults promote and shape language growth’ and her colleague Professor Caroline Rowland spoke about ‘Translating research into effective practice’.

‘Contingent Talk’ was the title of a talk by the University of Sheffield’s Dr Danielle Matthews, followed by A Better Start’s Development and Learning Advisors Dr Alice Haynes and Heather Ransom, who asked ‘How can we promote a culture of talking with babies?’

Dame Julia Cleverdon of the National Literacy Trust told the attendees about how children can ‘Read On, Get On’, and the final presentation of the conference – ‘Workforce development’ – was given by Drs Silke Fricke and Claudine Bowyer-Crane from the Universities of Sheffield and York.

The event guide that was given to attendees has been made available here. This guide includes a list of relevant papers and publications on language, speech and communication, as well as some links to useful websites. The full presentations from the event are available here.

There are three Learning and Development Events being held each year in 2016 and 2017, strengthening the A Better Start ‘communities of practice’ and supporting development projects that cross over the five sites of Bradford; Blackpool; Lambeth; Nottingham; and Southend on Sea.

The next Learning and Development event will focus on social and emotional development. It will be co-hosted by the Small Steps Big Changes - the A Better Start team in Nottingham on 29th and 30th September 2016. Content from the event will be available on this site.

A Better Start is a £215 million investment by the Big Lottery Fund, launched in October 2012 to improve the life chances of some of the most vulnerable babies and children in England.

The three key developmental outcome areas for the A Better Start programme are: diet and nutrition; communication and language; and social and emotional development.