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January 8, 2007 5:42 PM

I Cann LogoSolihull's LibDem MP, Lorely Burt has recently added her name to a Commons motion which draws attention to the work of children's communication charity, I CAN, and the launch of their recent campaign highlighting the importance of children's communication skills.

The Make Chatter Matter campaign was launched in early October in conjunction with the release of I CAN's Cost to the Nation of Children's Poor Communication report. The report documents the accumulating evidence on poor basic communication skills in children arriving in today's reception classes. Without appropriate support more than 50% of five year olds risk academic failure and social exclusion, since they are arriving at school without the speech and language they need to learn and make friends. This figure rises to 80% in areas of high unemployment and poor housing. Overall, there is a potential cost to the nation of £4 billion per academic year.

Lorely Burt MP said:

"The right start in life is essential for children to develop and reach their full potential. 'I Can' train specialist teachers and give parents the right encouragement in helping to develop early language and reading skills for their children, but government must do more to put early years learning at the heart of it's agenda."

Virginia Beardshaw, I CAN Chief Executive, said: "Communication is the modern life skill. We would like to thank Lorely Burt for supporting I CAN's Make Chatter Matter campaign, and helping to draw attention to the increasing prevalence of impoverished language skills amongst children which can have such a detrimental effect on their life chances."

The motion encourages the Government to put children's communication at the heart of policy development, with a focus on the following aims:

Informed parents - that all parents are fully informed on communication development

Skilled staff - that the early years workforce will have the necessary skills to support typical communication development, to identify potential problems and to develop strategies to support children with difficulties

Communication-friendly early years settings - that all early years settings provide language rich environments, support skill development and help early identification of difficulties

Specialist provision - that resources will follow assessed need with a focus on ensuring those with severe and complex communication disability can easily access the help they and their families need