Every Child a Talker
Every Child a Talker (ECAT) is a 2-year national programme of training and support designed to ensure practitioners have the skills, knowledge and confidence to support children’s communication development.
The overall aims of the ECAT programme are:
- to raise children’s achievement in early language development
- to increase practitioner knowledge and understanding of children’s early language development and how to support it
- to increase parental understanding of and involvement in their children’s language development
ECAT aims to improve the speech/language and communication skills of all children under 5. ECAT was set up in response to a wealth of research, which found that upwards of 50% of children on school entry have some speech, language and communication needs.
ECAT is a national programme. Islington was in the first wave of local authorities to come on board with the programme in September 08. Strategic and operational leads for ECAT are shared by the Early Years Foundation Stage and the Speech & Language Therapy service. 44 settings have participated so far, including children’s centres, primary schools and private and voluntary settings.
The focus in Islington has been on developing communication friendly learning environments and enhancing adult-child interactions, acknowledging that adults are the most valuable resource available to the children they work with. Research shows that adult interaction style has a significant impact on the rate of language development of children and that, despite the best intentions, classrooms don’t always provide a language-rich environment.
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