Talk of the Town is a community led approach to supporting the speech, language and communication (SLC) skills of children and young people, aged 0 – 19, living in areas of social disadvantage. It is delivered by the Communication Trust.
This evaluation reports on a randomised controlled trial undertaken with 2696 pupils in 64 primary schools across three local authorities in England. The trial took place between September 2013 and July 2015. The participating pupils were in Years 2 and 5 at the beginning of the project.
The Talk of the Town model is a whole school approach in which four main strands or components of work are embedded:
- workforce development for all staff to support children’s SLC skills, including an experienced, trained and managed Speech and Language Therapist (SaLT) working in school one day per week training all staff;
- the early identification of children’s speech, language and communication needs, including developmental delays;
- universal approaches and targeted SLC interventions to support the development of age appropriate SLC skills; and
- support for senior leaders to embed speech, language and communication as part of whole school development planning and practice, to ensure a sustainable approach to speech, language and communication support
The primary aim of this study, funded by the Education Endowment Foundation, was to identify whether Talk of the Town had an impact on pupil reading levels. Secondary aims included assessing the impact of the intervention on the language outcomes of children with low prior attainment in literacy, and exploring evidence of potential links between speech, language and communication and children’s reading attainment. The study also involved a process evaluation which involved interviews a survey with participating staff.