An infants’ school in North Yorkshire is to pioneer a major scheme for its pupils to spend less time in front of computers, in the hope that it will teach them to become better communicators.
Pickering Infants and Nursery School, with backing from authorities, has launched a project working with parents, childminders and early years’ providers in the area.
Encouraging children to interact with one another face-to-face will develop language skills and better equip them for opportunities, school leaders say, as a five-point plan is set up in school to turn off IT equipment and talk to students instead.
“There is great enthusiasm in the school for the project,” said headteacher Sarah Gillam, adding this was of wider responsibility to the community as a whole.
“There are so many key providers in helping to get young children to talk and develop their social skills.”
The school believes the wider community has a part to play, and has secured backing from Pickering Town Council to explore opportunities to help.
North Yorkshire education chiefs have also agreed to support the scheme, with a meeting to be held next Thursday with area nursery leaders, child minder groups, councillors and parents to promote the idea.
Encouraging children aged between three and seven years to talk and read will help their communication skills in later life and broaden their vocabulary, argues Mrs Gillam.
It’s the latest in a line of initiatives in the region, aimed at moving away from technology for young people.
In Sheffield, school leaders at the city’s largest secondary reported an impact within just a single term of a ban on mobile phones being brought in.
Pupils’ social interaction and friendship skills had improved rapidly since the change at Ecclesfield School in February, deputy headteacher Rachel Sutcliffe told The Yorkshire Post.
Researchers at Leeds Beckett University, meanwhile, found that teenagers were so attached to technology that it was impacting on their ability to sleep at night - and study in school.
Leading the field
Now teaching staff in Pickering, led by deputy head Rob Newton and Claire Rennard, are to launch the venture with younger children aimed at widening their language skills and increasing their word usage and command of language.
Town councillor Joan Lovejoy, a retired speech and language therapist and former Mayor of Pickering, said the town was leading the field in child education skills.
“It’s a great idea because we want to see children have more face-to-face contact and less time in front of computer screens,” she said. “They will benefit so much more in their future lives.”