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South Yorkshire Futures leads £1 million project to improve speech and language development for under-fives



In partnership with South Yorkshire’s four local authorities South Yorkshire Futures will lead the new £1 million project to reshape early years speech and language services in a bid to improve communications and language skills among the under fives. The project has been funded by the Department for Education.

The partnership will initially review existing services to see how they currently assess children’s language and speech skills and gather data. We will then look at how current systems could be improved to provide the best support for children and families.

Our project team will oversee the development and implementation of a sustainable regional strategy to meet speech, language and communication needs, delivered by multidisciplinary teams including professionals from education and health. A regional training team will also be established to identify any skills gaps across South Yorkshire and then provide tailored courses to train up the workforce. Sheffield Hallam University’s Centre for Development And Research in Education (CDARE) will also be involved in evaluation of the project.

Research has shown too many children in the region are failing to achieve early learning goals with 4,650 children in South Yorkshire not achieving the expected level of development in communications, language and literacy in 2018.

The aim of this project is to ensure that children receive the help they need in the early years in order to be able to thrive.

The project has been funded as part of a wider national DfE initiative which will see £6.5million for councils to support children with early communication difficulties.

Professor Sir Chris Husbands, Vice-Chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University, said: “Too many children in South Yorkshire face significant barriers to fulfilling their potential. If we are serious about tackling social mobility and raising educational attainment, it is vital that we work collaboratively across our region to give our children the best possible start in life.

“I am delighted that Sheffield Hallam’s South Yorkshire Futures has secured this important project, in partnership with our local authorities, to improve early years speech and language and drive educational improvements across South Yorkshire.”

Education Secretary Damian Hinds MP said: “Ask any parent and they want their child to have the best start in life. But we know that those from a disadvantaged background often start school already behind when it comes to communication and language development.

“This multimillion pound investment will provide better support to families in some of the most deprived areas of the country. No one is born knowing how to be a mum or a dad and parenting does not come with a manual, I want to support families with hints and tips to propel their child’s learning so they can go on to reach their full potential, whatever their background.”

Councillor Nuala Fennelly, Doncaster Council’s Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Schools, said: “We are committed to giving our children the very best start in life and the funding for this project, which is the first of its kind, will ensure that early help is available for all families across South Yorkshire who need it. I’m delighted that through our partnership approach, and everyone having the same commitment, we can work together to improve children’s outcomes in our region.”

The project will be delivered in four phases: planning and evaluation; analysis and development; development and delivery and legacy and will start in April 2019.

At the end of the year-long project a strategic board and a regional training team will remain in place in order to continue the work.
Maureen Hemingway, Early Years Foundation Stage Quality, Access and Moderation Manager at Sheffield City Council said: “We are extremely proud of the progress we have made in improving the trend of outcomes for children at the end of the Early Years foundation Stage.

“There is a great increase in the percentage of children achieving the Good level of development as defined by the DfE and we are so proud of the difference we have made for disadvantaged children, where our great outcomes are at a greater pace than the national average.

“The additional funding provides a very exciting opportunity to Sheffield – it will expand resources allowing us to further explore how we can do even better, capitalising on multi-disciplinary knowledge and expertise within and beyond our own local authority. We are delighted to be working with colleagues across South Yorkshire and Sheffield Hallam University.”

Rachel Dickinson, Executive Director, People, at Barnsley Council, said: “We are extremely pleased to be part of this project. Early language skills are very important to children’s development and learning, and the sooner we are able to identify and intervene with children facing any difficulties with speech, language and communication the greater chance we have of supporting and enabling them to achieve their full potential. This project will allow us to build on existing strengths within our early years/early help system and enhance training, practice and skills across the South Yorkshire regional workforce through collaboration and partnership. This will strengthen our ability to provide the right help at the right time to the right children.”

Rotherham Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People’s services, Councillor Gordon Watson, said: “We are delighted to be part of this regional project to tackle delays in speech, communication and early language development in our young children. Getting the right support to ensure every child can make the best start in life is one of the key priorities to help children reach their potential, thrive and go on to lead successful lives. Children and young people will need the skills, knowledge and experience to fully participate in a highly skilled economy and this collaboration will go a long way to support our aims to extend opportunity and prosperity for all.”

Trauma Informed Schools course featured in Rotherham Advertiser

As part of their ‘Class Action’ campaign against failing mental health in schools the Rotherham Advertiser recently featured an article about Trauma Informed Schools training. The course is currently being delivered by Trauma Informed Schools UK in partnership with South Yorkshire Futures at Sheffield Hallam University.

The practical skills based training course supported by over 1000 evidence-based research studies, is designed to inform and empower school staff to help vulnerable children and most importantly how to feel supported and nurtured in the process. The course aims to enable staff to respond effectively to vulnerable children and those who have suffered a trauma or have a mental health issue. The psychologist led supervision element of the course, provides practitioners with key insights and skills as well as vital support and encouragement.

Professionals from nurseries, primary schools, secondary schools and FE colleges amongst others are participating in the course. Clare Miller, Headteacher at Wath Victoria Primary, says “We currently don’t have the skills to support children who come to us with underlying traumatic experiences and mental health issues. So courses like this can help us to address this knowledge gap at all levels.”

To find out more about Trauma Informed Schools UK and the courses available please visit: 

Wayfinder Recruitment Agency opens in Eckington

Creating the right opportunities for young people to flourish and develop their career.

Wayfinder Recruitment Agency aims to create the right opportunities for young people to flourish and develop their career by helping people with additional needs and disabilities, ages 16-24 years old.

Interns are encouraged to overcome barriers to employment by supporting them through an Employment Pathway allowing them to develop the skills that are required to secure employment.

This very week, after just 5 months of being on a Supported Internship with ETS Alfreton, one of Wayfinder’s interns has been offered paid employment.  Well done!

Brian Harrison, Employer Engagement Manager of Wayfinder said “It is such a privilege to lead the Wayfinder Recruitment Team and to have these wonderful premises here in Eckington. Each member of the team works tirelessly to provide our learners with real work opportunities that could possibly lead to voluntary or paid employment. Seeing our learners grow in confidence and gain essential skills and experience is so rewarding.”

Local MP Lee Rowley, officially opened the Agency on Friday 1st March 2019 at 11.00am. Wayfinder Recruitment is a part of Landmarks Specialist College, locations cover Sheffield, Rotherham, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.

Any queries please contact Wayfinder Recruitment Agency on 01246 768388 or Our premises are located at:

Wayfinder Recruitment Agency
43 Market Street
S21 4EG

Landmarks Specialist College – upcoming events

On Saturday 6 April 2019 at 11.00 am Landmarks College is holding a general Open Event at Littlemoor House, Apperknowle Farm and Wayfinder Recruitment Agency, which parents/carers, learners, colleagues and any other interested parties are invited to attend.  Please share the attached flyer with anyone you feel may be interested in attending.

You will be able to have a tour of the facilities, speak to staff and enjoy some light refreshments. Learners who are hoping to transfer to Landmarks in September are welcome to join the Open Day as a refresher.

Also, on Thursday 11 April 2019 Landmarks is holding a whole college event – Spring Fest – commencing at 11.00 am, completing at 2.00 pm. Learners are invited to spend some time at this event and join the fun!

For further information or to book onto these events please contact Learner Recruitment on 01246 433788 or

South Yorkshire Futures referenced in Civic University Commission report

Sheffield Hallam University has reiterated its commitment to the Sheffield City Region by pledging to put the economy and quality of life in the local community top of its list of priorities by committing to produce a “Civic University Agreement” in partnership with local government and other major institutions.

The new agreement is a key recommendation in a report published by the Civic University Commission set up by the UPP Foundation and chaired by Sheffield Hallam’s Chair of Governors, Lord Bob Kerlsake.

The report sets out how universities have the capability, opportunity and responsibility to support the places where they are based to solve some of their most pressing and major problems.

These issues range from are helping local business adapt to technological change, to boosting the health of local people, improving education for school pupils and adult learners, and training and developing new civic leaders in every field from politics to the arts.

Sheffield Hallam University is referenced in the report for its social mobility programme, South Yorkshire Futures. The programme, backed by the Department for Education, is committed to improving education and raising aspiration for young people in South Yorkshire – particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Professor Roger Eccleston, pro vice-chancellor for regional engagement at Sheffield Hallam, said: “As this report confirms, universities play a vital role in the development of their local region. From skills and health, to education and culture, we transform lives – and this must translate in to a cohesive and meaningful approach for how we consider our civic responsibility.

“We are proud of the contribution we continue to make to the Sheffield City Region and delighted to put our name to this agreement.”

Lord Kerslake, who is also the former Chief Executive of Sheffield City Council and former Head of the Civil Service, said: “The deep economic and social changes that are happening in Britain today have, alongside Brexit, made the civic role of universities even more vital to the places they are located in.

“The civic universities of the Victorian era were founded as expressions of civic pride, and as a way of sharing knowledge and opportunity at a time of rapid change.

“We are now entering a new industrial revolution when it will be even more vital that knowledge is accessible in as many communities as possible.”

Tackling the teacher recruitment crisis: Retention as recruitment

There is a crisis in teaching. The equation is fairly simple: Not enough people are coming into the profession to meet the growing number of pupils – and too many are leaving.

Sue O’Brien, teacher recruitment and retention lead for South Yorkshire Futures

The Department for Education’s (DfE) new Recruitment and Retention Strategy, published today (28 January 2019) faces the issue head on with clear priorities and a commitment to work with the profession to deliver the strategy. Sheffield Hallam (through Sheffield Institute of Education and our South Yorkshire Futures programme) has been working closely with DfE to look at the issue on a regional level – and we are referenced in the report (page 34) for the successful pilot we have been running.

The focus for this issue, justifiably, is often on the literal starting point for the teaching profession: recruitment, Recruiting trainees is undoubtedly challenging. They have diverse needs, backgrounds and experiences, and therefore need individualised, clear advice and support.

So in thinking about this issue I’ve decided to disrupt the order slightly by starting from the other end of the journey, or the other ‘R’: Retention.

The number leaving in the first year after qualifying has remained reasonably steady over the last five years at around 15 per cent – but the numbers who leave in years two, three, four and five continues to increase. Within three years of training more than a quarter have left the profession. This reaches almost one third by year five.

It’s no great leap to understand that if we get retention right, then recruitment will follow. Satisfied, fulfilled teachers will attract more to the profession than, I would argue, any number of golden hellos. Clearly there is value in focusing on retention as a platform to support recruitment – but it goes much further than that. We have a moral imperative to get this right.

Making a difference

Teachers come into the profession to make a difference. To transform lives. To give something back. But this shouldn’t be at any cost – and certainly shouldn’t be at personal cost. To find out a bit more about what encourages or stops applicants from joining the professions, we carried out a piece of research through South Yorkshire Futures. The results were instructive and revealing.

Amongst the data, the most eye-catching was this: Our research revealed that it is family friends, family members and even teachers of the potential applicants who are most often cited as the people who discouraged them from joining the profession.

As a result, we’ve taken a lead in our region to look closer at his issue to see how we can change this perception. This includes having conversations about how well we look after our teachers and asking important questions to help inform our approach.

What are teachers’ experiences of being in a school? Are our schools great places to work?

These might seem like simple questions – but ultimately, the responses provide us with a defining narrative. It is the experience of the teachers which will determine if they stay in the profession, gain the satisfaction and rewards they anticipated at the start of their journey, and subsequently become the advocates of the profession that we so clearly need.

Centre stage

I’m very fortunate in my role. I get to visit schools across South Yorkshire and meet inspirational leaders and teachers who clearly love their job. They care about the young people they teach, they know what makes them tick and they know how to motivate and excite them. You can see how much satisfaction they get from knowing that what they do on a daily basis is having a positive and lasting impact. These are everyday people who every day make a genuine difference to our young people.

With this in mind, for our recruitment campaign this year, we took a very different approach. For the first time we put teachers centre stage (quite literally) to tell their honest and compelling stories. The teachers, at various stages of their careers, spoke to future teachers about why they do their job, what gets them out of bed in the morning and what the profession has given to them. You could have heard a pin drop when they spoke.

Therefore if we want to recruit more teachers, we have to face the fact that it is teachers themselves who are the best, or worst, friend of the recruitment campaign, depending on their experience. They are our voice, our narrators, our critics, our advocates – and they all have a powerful story to tell.


We may all have different views about what makes a great place to work – but we all want to work in a great place. We all want to work in an environment where we feel that we belong, where we have the support that we need, that our contribution matters and where positive supportive relationships are nurtured – so that’s where we’re starting.

So we’re not starting with outcomes, we’re starting with the place. We’re looking at what that place has to offer the teacher. And we’re looking at what support there is in that place (and whether it is the right support).

Great teachers

Great teachers transform lives – and every child deserves a great teacher. But this won’t be the case until we have begun to properly address the retention challenge. To do this, we must keep asking ourselves the difficult but simple questions: Are we offering the best environments in which to work? Are we meeting the needs of all our teachers?

Once we start to genuinely listen to the answers to these questions and begin to translate them in to actions and behaviours, we might start to see a workforce that feels more valued, motivated and excited – and I believe could result in a profound positive shift in recruitment and retention as a whole.

Landmarks Specialist College Open Day

Landmarks Specialist College is holding an Open Day at The Archer on Thursday 24th January 2019 from 1pm – 3pm.

Come along and meet industry trained tutors, find out what qualifications The Archer has to offer and visit our real life working environment.

Please confirm your attendance for this event.

To pre-register please call 01246 433788 or Email

The Archer
Warsop Lane
NG21 0AG

Young people in the South Yorkshire area to benefit from improved specialist education offer

Introducing a new partnership between two of the areas’ most respected providers of specialist education; Landmarks Specialist College and Nexus Multi-Academy Trust

Landmarks Specialist College and Nexus Multi Academy Trust are proud to announce their new partnership offer for Post 19 SEND in the South Yorkshire area. These well-established providers are joining forces in order to have a greater impact on post compulsory learning for young people with SEND. Learners will benefit from an improved provision in the area including a wider range of quality education, training and work opportunities achieved through a combined and coherent curriculum.

The partnership will work in co-production with other like-minded organisations, learners and their families to develop an offer that is distinct, unique and sets out an adult centred developmental curriculum.

The new programmes will start in September 2019 and those learners/organisations wishing to enrol, visit or just find out more should contact the organisation below.

For more information or to apply:

Call 01246 433788 or email:;

City Region Mayor support for South Yorkshire Futures

Sheffield Hallam University’s social mobility programme, South Yorkshire Futures, has received a major boost from the Sheffield City Region Mayor, Dan Jarvis.

Dan Jarvis has pledged a package including funding and support to the Department for Education supported programme – the biggest and most ambitious university-led social mobility project in the country.

The new South Yorkshire Futures Mayoral Partnership Fund will be used to support specific projects from the programme that are designed to improve life opportunities for disadvantaged children from the region.

Signalling his commitment to South Yorkshire Futures, the Mayor has also written to the top 100 businesses from the region asking for their support.
The third announcement saw the four South Yorkshire local authorities commit to improving education for children aged 0 – 5 years by jointly signing a Regional Vision for Early Years.

The programme brings together education partners from across the region to improve attainment and raise aspirations of children and young people, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The announcements were made at an event to celebrate programme’s first year of activity in front of 250 people, including school leaders, MPs, councillors, DfE representatives, business leaders and other stakeholders from the education sector.

In his speech, Mayor Jarvis announced the funding and his plan to write to the top 100 businesses from the region asking them to support the Talent Bank element of the programme, through skills-based offers to schools such as volunteering, mentoring and school governorships.

Mayor Dan Jarvis said: “Helping improve life opportunities for young people in our region who need it most, is a mission that South Yorkshire Futures and I share. It should not be a matter of political debate that our school children need to be healthy, independent, emotionally secure, socially competent, able to learn and able to separate from their parents or carers, but many of our children are not.

“If we fail to deal with these challenges we will lock in the iniquities of social immobility and we cannot allow this to happen. That is why I am delighted to commit to the development of an Early Years’ pledge to commit the whole public sector to assisting with school readiness for all young people. I am going to write to the 100 leading businesses across the region to ask for their formal commitment to South Yorkshire Futures to build a talented pool of mentors, school governors and volunteers to support schools in the region, who need it most.

“I am also going to commit some of my Mayoralties resources to the creation of a South Yorkshire Futures Mayoral Partnership Fund. Through this fund, I believe, we can deliver genuine transformational change for all the young people in our region to ensure they have the skills and education to help them achieve their full potential.”

Richard Calvert, Chief Operating Officer of Sheffield Hallam University, said: “Dan’s support is a tremendous boost for the programme and of course children and young people from the region and we are extremely grateful.

“Sheffield Hallam University has made a substantial commitment with South Yorkshire Futures, making it a civic responsibility to use our position, expertise and location in the region to help transform lives.”

Greg Burke, Director of South Yorkshire Futures, said: “We have made huge strides in our first year – but we know we must do more. Our plans for the next 12 months, around early years, teacher recruitment, skills, higher education, and employment, are extremely ambitious – but we are not naïve. We do not have all the answers and we certainly can’t do it by ourselves.

“We are confident that working with our partners we can begin to make a real difference to the lives of those who need our support the most.”

Supporting young children and their families: A regional response

By Sally Pearse, South Yorkshire Futures Preparation Strand Lead

On reading the concerns raised by Damian Hinds this week in his speech on social mobility I firstly wanted to sound a note of caution and highlight the need for a careful consideration of what is meant by school readiness and what is developmentally appropriate for young children. I then reflected on the work we have been doing at a regional level through South Yorkshire Futures to support young children and their families and felt heartened about what could be achieved by bringing those committed to early years education and care together.

Supporting children and families in the early years by providing quality, responsive services has a lasting impact (EPPSE Study, Sammons et al 2014) on children’s outcomes. However, there is no doubt that the loss of many of the supportive services for young families in recent years has hit communities hard and Local Authorities, settings and schools have been wrestling with how to best use their reduced resources to support children in the early years.

In South Yorkshire the four local authorities of Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield have come together with Sheffield Hallam University and representatives from across the sector to find out what we could achieve through joint working and collective action. These meetings have highlighted to me the passion and commitment of those working in early years and their willingness to work creatively together to develop services that can change outcomes for children.

In the last year we have drawn up a vision for early years services in the region that covers children’s rights, effective parent partnership and the role of the early years workforce. This vision has then been used to address the most pressing areas of concern raised by the sector and has led to:

• A regional school-readiness document that looks at the lifelong skills and attitudes children need to be successful and how parents, schools and early years settings can support these.

• A course for head teachers and leaders in the Foundation Stage so that they can use the research evidence available to make sustainable improvements to early years practice.

• A bid for an intensive home visiting service for vulnerable children that can be piloted across the region.

• The development of a language rich programme for the early years that supports children to think critically and voice their views.

This is just the start and there is still much work to be done, including continuing to lobby and campaign for the government to adequately fund early years provision and renew the commitment to developing a graduate led workforce. However, what the last year has shown is that our collective voice and will is powerful and we can generate momentum when we harness the resources of those who work in the many and varied roles in early years.

Sammons, P., Sylva, K., Melhuish, E., Siraj, I., Taggart, B., Toth, K., & Smees, R. (2014). The Effective Pre-school, Primary and Secondary Education Project (EPPSE 3-16+) Influences on students’ GCSE attainment and progress at age 16. Department for Education RR, 352.