Early Words Together, a programme that trains early years staff and volunteers to create stronger links between the home learning envrionment and early years provision.
Middlesbrough has the highest levels of literacy vulnerability in the country. In 2013, the year we launched Middlesbrough Reads, the town was 22.6 percentage points behind national average development levels in early years. Middlesbrough Reads has helped reduce this gap and in 2019 the figure was 8.6 percentage points, behind the national average. It's a great step in the right direction, but there is still a way to go.
Up to 50% of children in disadvantaged areas start school without the language skills they need to progress. Early Words Together trains settings to work with parents and children aged three to five, building parent’s confidence in supporting their child’s communication, language, and literacy skills at home.
In Middlesbrough, the programme is running in seven settings thanks to funding from the Tees Valley Community Foundation: St Alphonsus RC Primary, Hemlington Hall Academy, Beech Grove Primary, Berwick Hills Primary, Thorntree Primary, Corpus Christi RC Primary and Whinney Banks Primary.
The programme is being well received in all these schools, below are a few examples of the impact Eary Words Together can have:
Child A is a twin. Their sibling is very outgoing, confident and chatty whereas child A is withdrawn and selective mute. The family have been attending Early Words Together with child A to have some valuable bonding time. As a result, they are now whispering to their mum in sessions and is beginning to be much more confident in nursery.
Child B is Polish and attends with their dad who is not confident with communicating in English. Early Words Together has been invaluable for both parent and child to learn together in a fun way. As Child B reads aloud, they translate for dad which helps his English skills too - their favourite stories are Peppa Pig!
Child C has recently been put into the care of their grandparent, who they had only met a handful of times before the arrangement was put in place. Early Words Together is providing a way for them to bond and build a new relationship away from a very noisy and busy household.
“EWT has fostered a love of reading with our youngest children and has sparked a realisation in our parents of how important and pleasurable reading together can be. It has provided a valuable, safe and nurturing space for bonding over a book - As a school, we are extremely grateful!”Deputy Head Teacher at a Middlesbrough school