(2) what recent progress has been made under the Every Child A Talker programme; and if he will make a statement;
(3) how many children in England have received support through the Every Child A Talker programme;
(4) how much has been spent on the Every Child A Talker programme to date.
A total of £41.2 million over a three-year period has been made available to all local authorities as part of the Every Child a Talker programme. This includes up to £50,000 per year for each local authority (and slightly more for areas where it is more expensive to recruit and retain staff) to employ an early language consultant.
The rest of the funding—the majority—is for staff in early years settings to access training and professional development. No local authority spending data are yet available for the period covering ECaT since its launch in September 2008.
None of the £41.2 million was allocated to National Strategies. Their role in supporting LAs to implement the ECaT programme is part of their ongoing contract with the Department.
We do not have details of the number of children who have received support through ECaT as the programme is aimed at improving practitioners' understanding of early language development so that they can focus on raising the speaking and listening skills of children in settings where there is the greatest need. Over 3,500 practitioners will receive training and support through the programme.
The programme has been widely welcomed by participating local authorities, who have recruited early language consultants and are working with targeted settings. Because of the age of the children expected to benefit from the programme, we do not expect to see a significant impact on Early Years Foundation Stage Profile results until 2010. However, it is encouraging to see significant improvements in the 2009 results of many of the local authorities involved in the first wave of the programme.