‘Talk Boost’ for primary pupils as local schools introduce speech and language programme

Staff from the 13 local primary schools who attended the Talk Boost training in Pond Park Primary.
Staff from the 13 local primary schools who attended the Talk Boost training in Pond Park Primary.

Thirteen primary schools across Lisburn have introduced a new programme aimed at helping children improve their language and communication skills.

Talk Boost supports language delayed children aged four - seven years, helping them to make progress with their language and communication skills.

The Public Health Agency-funded programme is being delivered in Largymore, Fort Hill, Brownlee, Knockmore, St Aloysius, Pond Park, Killowen, Harmony Hill, Seymour Hill, Tonagh, Ballymacash, Old Warren and St Joseph’s primary schools.

Talk Boost has been shown to accelerate children’s progress in language and communication by an average of 18 months after a 10-week intervention.

The local programme was made possible by the Early Intervention Lisburn Partnership, which identified speech and language development as a priority in the area.

The Partnership was initiated by the Resurgam Trust in 2011 to improve outcomes for children, young people and families in deprived areas of Lisburn.

Adrian Bird, Director of the Resurgam Trust, said: “Research carried out in 2013 in primary schools in Lisburn highlighted that 32 per cent of our children were entering primary school with a mild to moderate speech & language problem. We have worked closely with the SEHSCT Speech & Language department and agreed that both of these programmes were the best approach to help improve this shocking statistic.”

Research shows that early language delay impacts on children’s communication skills, educational attainment, social and emotional development and life chances particularly in terms of employment.

Gail Malmo, Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement Manager with the Public Health Agency in the South Eastern area, commented: “Speech and language is the most important skill children will learn during their early schooling and has far-reaching implications for life-long confidence and wellbeing. Early intervention is a priority for the PHA. We recognise a child’s vocabulary skills at age five are a predictor of their employment status at age 34. Resolving speech and language difficulties by age six results in better outcomes for the child.”

Geoffrey Cherry, principal of Pond Park Primary School, added: “We as a school were delighted to host the training for the Talk Boost programme, and are delighted to introduce this programme in our school to support children with speech and language delay. To have an early intervention strategy that deals with developing speech and children’s talking and listening skills will be very beneficial. The programme is structured and straightforward to administer.”