About Stoke Speaks Out

Stoke Speaks Out is an initiative which was set up in 2004 to support children’s speech and language development in Stoke-on-Trent. It involves everyone who links with children in some way including parents, practitioners and the wider community.

Why was it set up?

In 2002 local research identified that many children were starting nursery with poor language skills; by 2004 this was as high as 64% of children. Stoke Speaks Out was set up to make sure everyone knows how to support children, what to expect and where to seek help if children are struggling. The belief of the programme is that ‘communication is everybody’s business’.

Why is this important?

Speech and language development are the building blocks for learning. Good communication is essential for socialising, learning and to developing your full potential. Language delay has been linked to poor educational attainment, anti-social behaviour and long term mental health difficulties. We know that the majority of brain growth takes place in the first 3 years of life so Stoke Speaks Out is focused on early life and early education to ensure all children are supported as well as they can be.

What do we do?

Stoke Speaks Out is a hub for speech, language and communication activities. We provide a wide range of high quality training for people working with children under 7 years. We promote key messages that support early speech, language and communication through Facebook, social media and community campaigns and develop resources to use with children and families.

Stoke Speaks Out activities are currently delivered by the Children's Speech and Language Therapy team in Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, and covers Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.

What have we done so far?

Since setting up in 2004, the programme has trained over 10,000 practitioners in key messages around early attachment, child development and speech and language development.

Between 2004 and 2020 we have seen a marked improvement in children’s language development. We have embedded the key messages across the Stoke-on-Trent and ensured the local workforce understand the importance and relevance of early speech, language and communication.

In recent years we have led a School Readiness programme for Stoke-on-Trent; Speech, Language and Communication projects through Opportunity Area Funding, developed the Early Communication Screen, It's Time to Talk & More Time to Talk and won a range of national awards. We are currently delivering training across Staffordshire, funded by the Education Outcomes Fund (EOF).