A SPEECH and language therapy project is helping transform children's communication skills across Wychavon.

The district council has spent £100,000 from its social mobility scheme to put on the project, which is run by Herefordshire and Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust, in schools and early years settings.

The idea followed an approach by a school in Evesham to Sarah Morris, a speech and language therapist for the trust.

Staff had noticed a lot of children were starting school with speech and language problems, which were sometimes quite significant and hadn’t been picked up at nursery or pre-school.

As part of the project, school, pre-school and nursery staff were given access to tools and training to help them better understand and identify speech and language problems.

At the start of the last school year, 50 per cent of children assessed fell below the average range for speech and language skills for their age, with the figure even higher for more disadvantaged children and those with English as an additional language.

After receiving dedicated support, 70 per cent of all children had reached the benchmark for their age by the end of the school year.

Mrs Morris said: "I think it’s raised the profile of speech and language needs at a really poignant time.

"Because of Covid lockdowns, we’ve actually seen more children than ever requiring speech and language support.

"It’s about longevity too. Increasing staff awareness and understanding of speech and language difficulties, and their confidence in knowing how best to support the children in their settings, will have a massive impact on every group they work with from now on."

Cllr Chris Day from Wychavon District Council, said: "We want to give every child in Wychavon the best possible chance of success.

"The results of the project are clear to see and we’re pleased that even more pupils are now benefiting from it."

Please contact Leonie Silk at leonie.silk@wychavon.gov.uk, or visit https://www.wychavon.gov.uk/community-and-living/wychavon-communities-and-funding-advisory-panel/social-mobility, for more information on social mobility in Wychavon and how to apply for a grant.