Banknock’s Bankier Primary is reckoned one of the first in Scotland to come up with a bespoke plan for improving spoken language skills.
Thanks to a team of speech specialists from NHS Forth Valley the attainment results are among the highest at P1 in Falkirk district, and the scheme is now being extended to some schools in both Stirling and Clackmannanshire.
The programme, funded by Falkirk Council and the Scottish Government, involves class teachers, support for learning assistants and parents in a programme that’s said to enable children to make an average of 28 months’ progress in spoken language in just 12 months.
The success comes at a time when almost a quarter of the 34,000 young people aged 18 and under inthe Falkirk area are said to have speech, language and communication needs.
Glenn Carter, speech and language therapy team leader, communication support in education team, explained: “Most people associate speech and language therapy with conditions such as stammering, lisps and speech sound difficulties.
“But this programme is designed to give all children greater skills with words and communication which are linked with improved learning, mental health, behaviour, employment opportunities and future life chances.”
The new programme, Closing the Spoken Language and Attainment Gap, is aimed at nursery children and primary children from P1 to P3.
A speech and language therapist explains to parents the importance of spoken language, and provides examples of things they can do to help support their children’s language and learning development.
Six months later parents commented on how their children were faring with feedback including ‘my child has been much better describing things and enjoys lots more pretend play’ and ‘he is better at listening to what I am saying and is a confident speaker’.
Susan Dyer, head teacher at Bankier Primary School, added: “This programme has worked by targeting individual pupils as well as benefiting the whole class.
“There is strong evidence that it has impacted very positively on attainment and has vastly improved our pupils’ language skills.
“We hope it will help them participate more in class and make friends throughout their school years.”