SAUCHIE NURSERY has become the first in Forth Valley to earn a diamond award for improving the language skills of children through a new interactive programme.

Delivered with the help of NHS Forth Valley speech and language therapists, the programme, called Language is Fun Together (LIFT), has seen a huge improvement in the way children at Sauchie speak and communicate.

According to the research, 73 per cent of youngsters taking part in LIFT groups now have the skills expected of their age group.

This compares with a figure in January 2018 which showed that on average just 34 per cent of three-year-olds in LIFT nurseries achieved this.

Sauchie is one of 10 Clackmannanshire nurseries involved in LIFT which is helping to build children’s language and communication skills through everyday play and talk and group work.

The project shows that small changes in the way adults communicate with children can make a huge difference to their development.

Louise Illingworth, NHS Forth Valley speech and language therapist, said: “Good communication skills are essential for children’s learning, friendships and wellbeing.

“Spoken language is the main way children learn so it is really concerning that increasing numbers of children are coming to school without good spoken language skills to help them learn and develop.

“If a child has difficulties with listening and talking, this can have a really big impact on their development in lots of areas.

“If a child does not get the right support when they are young, these difficulties can affect their behaviour, mental health, employability and success in the future.”

The diamond award recognises the efforts of nursery staff and the way they interact with young children.

When the group were recently observed, an amazing 81 per cent of their interactions were of the high quality needed for language building and the development of early literacy skills.