Sporting spirit is a lift for language

Olympics theme is helping to raise the game in speaking and listening skills. Elizabeth Buie reports

Primaries throughout Scotland are being urged to sign up for the UK's first national Communication Triathlon for schools. More than 500 schools - 30 of them in Scotland - have already registered to take part since its launch earlier this year. But more are wanted.

It offers free fun events to boost speaking and listening skills. Backed by Openreach, BT's local network business, and language and communication experts at the children's charity I CAN, it encourages children to take part in three London 2012 Games-themed activities around "Thinking, Talking and Teamwork".

Activities are split across 4-7 and 7-11 age groups. They can be undertaken by a class, a year group or a school over a week or even a day, as part of Get Set, the official London 2012 education programme.

The programme has a range of curriculum-linked communication activities that support children's school work, such as Sports Bingo, Secret Striker, Memory Relay, and a Listening Assault Course.

Designed by a team of experts, including speech and language therapists and teachers, they help children become good communicators. Youngsters are awarded a certificate and can participate in a closing ceremony to celebrate achievement and recognise hard work.

Virginia Beardshaw, chief executive of I CAN, said: "Upwards of 50 per cent of children in some parts of the country are arriving at primary school without the speech and language skills they need to learn, achieve and make friends. The Communication Triathlon is a fantastic way to get children practising their communication skills in a fun and exciting way so they do not get left behind."

Liz Johnson, 100m breaststroke gold medal winner at the 2008 Paralympics said: "I know how important these communication skills are - both in education and in everyday life."

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