The proportion of children achieving a good level of development varies significantly across Norwich.  Support from Speech and Language services and therapists can have long waiting lists and schools report that pupils too often have poor communication, social and emotional skills at school entry.  Addressing speech, language and communication needs in the early years can have a powerfully positive impact on the health and wellbeing, educational progress and employability of children and young people.

Norwich Opportunity Area has established a network of Communication Champions in schools, nurseries, and early years settings across the city, creating a universal approach to improving speech and language.

Dr Tim Coulson chairs the Norwich Opportunity Area Partnership Board, and is the Chief Executive of Unity Schools Partnership, a multi-academy trust of 30 primary, secondary and special schools based mainly in Suffolk. He was previously headteacher at William Tyndale Primary School in Islington, has led an Education Action Zone in Lambeth, was National Director of the National Numeracy Strategy. He has also held senior posts at the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority and in local authorities. He was Director of Education in Essex and one of the first Regional School Commissioners at the Department for Education. 

In this session from the Supporting Disadvantaged Families Conference 2021, Dr Coulson discussed Norwich Opportunity Area’s approach to tackling poor levels of development in children. He shared the work of the Norwich Communication Hubs and Communication Champions, and how they support these children and young people.

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Many children start school, unequipped with the speech, language, and communication skills that would be expected at school-entry age. The Norwich Opportunity Partnership Area Board are working to strengthen early-childhood development statistics in the area. We heard from Tim Coulson, Chair of the Norwich Opportunity Area on how Communication hubs and champions can help to support these children in their development.

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