Teaching innovation developed in Hull to reach 50 schools after charity awards £97,000

An innovative teaching system developed in Hull is being expanded to 50 schools across the North of England, thanks to a grant of £97,000 from an education charity.

Chatta, an award-winning tool which links images with language, has been described by an early years leader at one of the participating schools as “the most exciting thing I’ve seen in education for 20 years”.

The two-year project, funded by a £97,000 grant from education charity SHINE, aims to support pupil progress in vocabulary use, and oral composition and remove barriers to writing. It also aims to close gaps in attainment for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The project is already underway, with new groups of 10 schools joining each half term.

Schools in Hull and Liverpool were first to participate, with settings in North Lincolnshire set to join them this week. They will be followed by schools in West Yorkshire and Newcastle in the coming weeks.

The second year of the project will provide data and teacher feedback and lead to a detailed and clear review of the impact of the project.

Project participant, Julie Leach, Early Years Leader at Francis Askew Primary School in Hull is excited by the transformational possibilities Chatta brings, for pupils of all ages.

She said: “Chatta gives children the gift of knowledge and imagination. It allows children the opportunity to learn new vocabulary, removing barriers, which traditionally creates fear.

“Children want to take part and give it a go. Age is limitless. Watching normally quiet 3-year-olds up to 11-year-olds fully immersed in ‘presenting’ to others gave me tears of joy.”

In Liverpool, Jo Clegg, EYFS Leader and SENCO at St Anne’s Catholic Primary School, is also participating in the project and has already seen the impact of the simple but powerful Chatta approach.

She said: “This is the most exciting thing I’ve seen in education for 20 years. The idea that the same tool can be used to support such high-quality learning from Nursery to Year 6 is almost unheard of but possible, due to the limitless possibilities of Chatta.

“The positive impact on our children’s participation, confidence and communication skills has been immediate and profound.

“From the very youngest to children in Year 6, the use of Chatta has transformed our teaching of oracy and removed so many barriers to writing.

“For children with limited vocabulary and those learning English, it has been the most incredibly empowering learning experience.”

Chris Williams, the East Riding-based founder of Chatta, said: “This project is a massive opportunity to help children across the North of England achieve and succeed at school. It’s also an incredible boost for Chatta as we try to spread the word about the difference it makes and help as many children, families, teachers and school leaders as possible.

“The support from SHINE has been amazing and I value the support of the team and trustees. SHINE is helping provide a stepping stone for Chatta to build wider awareness and impact.

“SHINE’s belief in the impact and value of Chatta has been something which has made a colossal difference for Chatta and the schools we work with.

SHINE’s interim CEO, Helen Rafferty, added: “It has been a real joy to support Chatta, and we’re excited to continue this work into the next phase, bringing Chatta to many more children in the North of England.

“We know that there are so many crucial brain and language development milestones in the younger years of children’s lives, and we are excited by the innovative way that Chatta helps to build these. We are so looking forward to seeing the impact on children.”

The award-winning Chatta system is easy for teachers to implement with pupils of any age, working at any level and in any subject.

It combines strong aspects of cognitive science and supports pupils’ spoken language skills, strengthens vocabulary use and is an inclusive whole-class approach to helping students with challenges related to working memory, sequencing and processing.

The new Chatta project builds on the recent success of a SHINE-backed project with 12 schools in Hull which showed strong progress in pupils’ speaking skills.

The project was awarded a Community Partnership award in the 2022 Global Ed Tech Awards and brought together SHINE, Hull City Council, Chatta and local sponsors Pocklington School.

Pocklington School is once again involved in this region-wide expansion of the project.

If you’d like to know more about the project or think your school would like to be involved, please contact hello@chatta.co.uk.