We were delighted to deliver two highly successful training days focused on A Better Start Southend and the First and Foremost project at the end of April and start of May.

What is First and Foremost?

First and Foremost is a Department for Education-funded project which launched in autumn 2018. The project aims to support speech, language and communication within seven selected areas nationally*. The project seeks to narrow the ‘word gap’ in 5 year olds by 2020 and in Southend is operating within seven Early Years settings.

A Better Start Southend involvement arose from the successful model of the collaborative work from ABSS Speech, Language and Communication team with the Let’s Talk team. The project aims to provide Early Years settings with resources, distribute materials for practitioners to use (such as webinars) and by nominating a ‘Communication Champion’ role, the project aims to encourage a language rich environment within Southend’s Early Years settings in order to boost communication skills in children.

At the ‘A Better Start Southend meets First and Foremost’ training days we delivered, Early Years providers in the A Better Start Southend wards were able to network and share and learn the latest Speech, Language and Communication research and updates from both projects so far. Over 50 attendees joined the days, including practitioners from our existing settings the Speech, Language and Communication team have been operating in, new settings and our new recruits to the First and Foremost project. There were also attendees from our Early Years Alliance development workers, Family Action, the PACEY childminding team (Together for Twos), school nurseries and an A Better Start Southend Project Manager.

As mentioned, First and Foremost incorporates a range of aspects, and as part of the project, A Better Start Southend Speech and Communication Specialists Lynsey Weston and Sian Ansell alongside Isobel Wratislaw, Highly Specialist Speech and Language Therapist for EPUT have recorded a series of webinars chaired by Michael Freeston, Director of Quality Improvement at Early Years Alliance. The informative webinars explore how young children acquire words, and why their vocabulary is important for their future success, providing practitioners with practical advice to encourage understanding of this vital aspect of their work, as well as offering suggestions on how to improve their skills. To listen to the webinars visit: www.youtube.com/user/PreSchoolLA/videos. Additionally, EduCare training modules are also offered after following each webinar.

To learn more about the First and Foremost project and how to get involved, please contact A Better Start Southend Speech and Communication Specialists Lynsey Weston lynsey.weston@eyalliance.org.uk or Sian Ansell sian.ansell@eyalliance.org.uk

* The eight national settings for the First and Foremost project are: Birmingham, Leeds, Lewisham, Lincolnshire, Luton, North Yorkshire, Portsmouth and Southend

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