Justin’s Weekly Swindon Adver Article – 3rd August 2018

This week the Education Secretary Damian Hinds set out ambitious plans to boost speaking and reading skills following new research which shows that there are children starting school who are unable to speak in full sentences.

Part of this plan is to bring together a new coalition of charities, education experts, businesses and media and tech companies, to work out how best to support families, and encourage more parents to read and learn new words with their children.

Educational researchers have long stressed the importance of the home learning environment, with lots of books and early learning materials, as well as engaged parents talking with and teaching their children how to speak and make letter sounds, providing a good start.

Unfortunately, not all parents are able to offer this kind of learning environment, whilst some don’t realise how important it is.

This is why Damian Hinds has identified the need to provide advice and extra support to these parents, so that their children can start school with basic language skills.

The new coalition will explore ways that this can be done, as well as look into the potential of technology to assist parents with early language development.

Getting this right is so important. When you’re behind from the start of your schooling, you rarely catch up and the gap just widens.

This has a huge impact on social mobility, which is why we want to take action in order to give every child the skills they need to get on in life and fulfil their potential.

I am passionate about the importance of this and I will back any efforts to help engage and support parents to make sure all children learn these basic and hugely important skills.

Locally, the Summer Reading Challenge is well underway, and I would encourage parents to pop into their local library and get the kids signed up.

It is a great way for children to read over the summer holidays (something that usually drops off a cliff edge when outside of school) in a fun and relaxed way.

They get to choose the books and as they read each one, they get close to completing the entire challenge and gaining a certificate at the end of it. It is completely free and we are hoping to see even more sign ups than last year.

I have also been helping the library service to recruit volunteers for the challenge so everyone will be sure to get a warm welcome as people are giving up their time to assist with this brilliant cause.

Elsewhere there was more great news this week for those aspiring to get on the housing ladder with the number of first time buyers at an 11 year high, up 89 per cent since 2009.

New statistics have also shown that 121,500 first-time buyers have benefited from stamp duty relief, as we continue to help more people onto the housing ladder and create a new generation of home owners.

I have done lots of work to support this effort, including meeting with developers in Swindon to ensure sufficient starter homes, as well as with banks to ensure there are more innovative products on offer for first time buyers.

Owning your own home brings with it security, pride and comfort, and it is right that we are making it easier for people to achieve this ambition.