The Basic Skills Agency is today launching a new multi-media advertising campaign across Wales to remind parents that it’s never too early to start talking to their babies and young children.
The campaign is the fourth in a series of campaigns undertaken as part of Welsh Assembly Government’s National Basic Skills Strategy (1), which is being overseen by the Basic Skills Agency. The campaign features press and outdoor advertising, as well as three TV adverts in English and Welsh. The adverts carry the strapline “Talking to your children can make all the difference” (2).
The campaign is being launched in response to a survey of headteachers in Wales conducted by the Basic Skills Agency in 2002, which found that more and more children were starting school without the speaking and listening skills needed for school (3). Many of these children, headteachers said, were unable to listen or engage in extended play and were unprepared for learning by the time they entered primary school.
Educational experts say that talking and listening to babies and toddlers can help with their educational and social development. Babies learn to communicate through playing and interacting with their parents. Songs, rhymes and games help develop the language skills which underpin literacy, and colours, texture, shape and quantity can be learned about through games and everyday experiences.
The TV adverts show a mother or father talking enthusiastically to someone out of shot. As the camera pans out, it is revealed that they are talking to their baby or young toddler. The adverts promote a free pack that parents can phone-in for, which contains colourful materials for parents and children to use together and advice for parents on encouraging their child’s speaking and listening skills. Alan Wells, Director of the Basic Skills Agency said,
“A year or so ago, I drew attention to how for many families interaction between busy parents and their children consisted of a “daily grunt”. Many parents simply don’t know how to communicate and play with their children in a way that will develop their speaking and listening skills. Through this advertising campaign we hope to help parents develop creative ideas about ways in which they can help their children develop essential skills through activities, songs and games.
“We know that children who have not developed effective speaking, listening and counting skills by the time they enter primary school will be at a disadvantage in all subjects across the curriculum. And from here it is only a short step to finding themselves falling behind in all aspects of their education.
“Through the National Basic Skills Strategy for Wales we are determined to break the cycle of underachievement which puts so many young children at a disadvantage, and we are convinced this campaign will help in the drive to ensure that all children get a good start when they begin school.“
Jane Davidson, Minister for Education and Lifelong Learning said, "Learning to communicate from a young age will give children a flying start when it comes to education. Speaking, listening and interaction between parents and their toddlers and babies will develop the formative skills they need for Primary school, ensuring they can learn and socialise with other children and teachers."
Notes to Editors
1. The first phase of the National Basic Skills Strategy for Wales was launched in April 2001. Since that time the Welsh Assembly Government has allocated £40 million for the Strategy. The Basic Skills Agency has been overseeing the implementation of the National Strategy on behalf of the Welsh Assembly Government. Phase 2 will be launched in April 2005.
2. The adverts will be appearing on ITV and S4C from today onwards and the first one will be aired during the Coronation Street commercial break.
3. The Basic Skills Agency’s 'Survey into Young Children’s Skills on Entry to Education' is available on www.basic-skills-wales.org
4. A Video News Release containing footage of the adverts, interviews with parents and education experts as well as the Minister for Education and Lifelong learning is available from TNR on 020 7963 7163.
5. The Basic Skills Agency is the national development agency for literacy and numeracy in England and Wales. We are funded primarily by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) and the Welsh Assembly Government. Our mission is to contribute to raising standards of basic skills in England and Wales. Our aims are to develop approaches that most effectively improve standards of basic skills and disseminate good practice. Our Patron is HRH The Princess Royal, the Chairman is Garry Hawkes CBE, and the Director of the Basic Skills Agency is Alan Wells OBE.
6. We define basic skills as ‘the ability to read, write, and speak in English or Welsh and use mathematics at a level necessary to function and progress at work and in society in general’.
7. The TV advertising campaign has been produced by the Cardiff office of integrated marketing services agency, Golley Slater.
8. For further information please contact Dilys Alam at the Basic Skills Agency on 020 7440 6618 or email email@example.com. For out of hours media enquiries please call 07776 132226.