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NI education minister launches new childrens speech therapy initiative

Monday 12th December 2016
Northern Irish education minister Peter Weir has launched a new speech therapy initiative aimed at primary school children. Image: DGLimages via iStock
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A new speech and language initiative aimed at the children of families from deprived areas in Northern Ireland has been officially launched by the country's education minister.

Local publication Lisburn Today reports that Peter Weir visited Lisburn to mark the launch of the Talk Boost and Early Talk Boost programmes, which are designed to provide speech therapy to children of primary school age who are experiencing delays in development in these areas.

To date, 13 primary schools and five nurseries have implemented the initiatives, which have been developed in conjunction with speech therapists and the Resurgam Trust, as part of the Early Intervention Lisburn Partnership.

Research carried out by the organisation in 2013 led to the discovery that almost one-third (32 per cent) of children in Lisburn were starting primary school with underdeveloped speech and language skills, meaning they were less likely to progress as far as their more developed counterparts in their education.

The speech therapy scheme has been set up with this in mind, particularly as studies have shown that children's vocabulary skills at the age of five can indicate their employment status at the age of 34; poor speech skills mean an individual is less likely to be in a high-paying job. However, making sure any speech or language issues are resolved by the age of six means children are more likely to experience better outcomes in later life.

At the official launch of the initiatives, Mr Weir commented: "Being able to communicate is one of the most important skills we need in life. Almost everything we do involves communication. It is important, therefore, that children should be prepared, supported and encouraged to develop their language and communication skills."

Director of the Resurgam Trust Adrian Bird added: "We are delighted that the minister for education is here to support such an important development for our schools in Lisburn."

Written by Martin Lambert

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