Case Study: Medway Early Talkers

Supporting families in Medway

Situated on the north Kent coast, Medway local education authority serves the diverse, densely populated Medway towns of Chatham, Rochester, Strood and Gillingham. The area has traditionally had high levels of unemployment, with a significant number of families experiencing social deprivation. It is a vibrant, diverse community with more than 23 languages spoken across the area.

In the spring 2023, Medway LEA commissioned Speech Link Multimedia Ltd to produce a website for families and carers to sit alongside their children and family hubs.

Both organisations have an established working relationship developed over 18 years, with many of the schools in Medway using Speech Link and Language Link since their inception. As part of their work supporting families, Speech Link Multimedia Ltd, have produced a Parent Portal website. This includes information and advice as well as lots of practical activities and video demonstrations and lessons about supporting and developing speech and language skills in the home environment.

Medway LEA wanted a similar site that included signposting to local services.

The co-production process

A working group of stakeholders from representative organisations met to discuss the requirements. This group included representatives from Speech Link Multimedia, Local Speech and Language Therapists, Health visitors, Parents groups, The Medway council digital team and the Medway Commissioners.

The group decided the new site should:

  • Reduce literacy load with greater use of video.
  • Be very simple to use.
  • Meet all accessibility criteria.
  • Be inclusive.

To ensure co-production was achieved, elements of the site were developed and trailled with parents from a local playgroup.

The Early Talkers website

The Medway Early Talkers site is simple to use, highly visual and fully audio supported. It is designed to be easy to access on mobile devices as well as tablets and computers.
There are four sections.

Talking with your child – This includes tips for developing speech and language skills at home including, slowing down, keeping language simple, giving details etc

Why does my child – This is a podcast with two speech and language therapists answering some of the most common questions parents ask e.g. why does my child never listen!

Talking games – These are simple activities for families to use at home to encourage talking and listening.
Parents complete a short quiz to find the appropriate level of activities for their child. The activities are presented in short videos with therapists demonstrating how to play the games and develop listening and talking.

Local support – The final section is a customisable portal to local services so parents know where to go for support in their local area.

Next steps

We are continuing to develop content with the aim of refreshing the videos periodically. We are also working on versions of the site in different languages to increase inclusivity and accessibility.

If you would like to talk about co-producing a version of this site for your local area please contact our relationship development manager at:

Call us on 0333 577 0784

Or follow Judith McMillan on Linkedin