A multi-million pound revamp of a Scarborough school which serves one of the country’s most deprived communities will be vital to helping drive up poor language skills among students, senior education leaders have claimed.
The £6m development has seen a new building created for hundreds of school children who attend Overdale Community Primary School in Eastfield.
The school moved into the building last year, but Covid has delayed an official opening.
The new building will enable teaching staff to continue with innovative work using in-house speech and language therapists to support pupils who arrive in their early years with poor language and communication skills.
The therapists also enhance the speech and language development skills of school staff, and work with parents and carers to help their children.
Headteacher Vicki Logan said: “If we get in early we can give children a chance to realise and achieve their potential.
"If children can speak and listen well, they will read, write and comprehend with higher levels of success as they move through their school years.”
Research by the National Literacy Trust has shown that children who have poor language skills at the age of five are six times more likely to fail to reach the expected standard in English at the age of 11.
They are also three times more likely to experience mental health problems as adults, and twice as likely to be unemployed aged 34, according to the study.
Government data has also shown that Eastfield falls within the most deprived one per cent of locations in England.
Overdale Community Primary School has accessed Opportunity Area funding of £640,000 since 2017 which created a speech and language therapy hub with 24 primary schools across the Scarborough district.
Opportunity Areas were set up by the Government five years ago with a focus on social mobility to raise aspirations and teaching and learning for children and young people across the UK.
Although the Opportunity Area funding for speech and language therapy has now reduced – the programme comes to an end in the summer – the new building will allow the therapy to continue, which the school now funds largely through its own budgets.
The school has double the capacity of the old building on its former site and provides places for up to 420 children as well as a nursery and community facilities.
Its new location provides a link between the older parts of Eastfield and the new housing developments in Middle Deepdale.
North Yorkshire County Council’s executive member for education and skills, Cllr Patrick Mulligan, said: “This is the culmination of many years of planning, the result of which is a landmark building for the provision of high-quality education to the children of Eastfield.”