By the age of three, children from more disadvantaged backgrounds have heard around 30 million fewer words than children from affluent families – or 1,400 words fewer per hour. Children in the UK from low income backgrounds are 19 months behind their peers when they start primary school.

That's why Ark has developed focused early intervention programmes to help break this cycle. Working in partnership with ICAN, Ark has developed the Oral Language Programme (OLP) to foster better communication and literacy skills from an early age.


Communicating effectively

The Oral Language Programme runs across our primary schools. It aims to ensure that every one of our primary schools are “communication friendly” so that all children can develop the language and communication skills they need to be successful in school.

The programme is made up of two main strands:

1. Primary Talk is a training programme for teachers, delivered by speech and language therapists. Teachers learn  how children’s communication develops and what to do if they're worried about a child in their class. They also learn about activities that can be used to develop talk in the classroom.

2. The Nuffield Early Language Intervention and TalkBoost, both of which are fun, small-group teaching programmes for nursery and reception pupils. The programmes boost pupils' confidence and vocabulary when speaking and telling stories.

The teachers' view

Following speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) training at Ark Oval Primary Academy:

  • 86% of teachers said they were either confident or very confident at being able to identify children with SLCN.
  • 90% said they were confident or very confident in their awareness of what makes a communication friendly classroom’.
  • 100% said they were able to make adjustments in class to support all children’s language and communication skills’  
  • 95% said they were confident or very confident that they could remove the barriers to learning for a child with SLCN.