Response to BBC Trust Consultation on the Asian Network


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Children’s radio: a vital medium

National Children’s Radio

A proposal from the Sound Start Group


The BBC Asian Network is subject to a BBC Trust Review and could close. This would offer the opportunity to develop a new network of children’s leisure and learning in a valuable public broadcasting space.

The government is investing billions in early-years education and care. The EYFS has been adopted and revised and more nursery places for two-year-olds are promised.  Never before has there been greater focus on the need and wellbeing of early years and family life in the UK – with particular emphasis on reversing the worrying  increase in language deprivation in children.

Sir Jim Rose’s Review of the Primary Curriculum highlighted Language Poverty and the Bercow Review recommended vital improvements in children’s communication skill for which £52m was allocated. The government published its Speech, Language and Communication Needs Action Plan, including ‘Every Child a Talker’, and 2011 is designated the Year of Language and Communication.

A string of government sponsored reviews: the Allen Report on Early Intervention; Frank Field’s Report on Poverty;  Reg Bailey’s Report on Commercialization and Sexualization: ‘Letting Children be Children – all focus on better and more accessible support for families with young children. Dedicated radio can support, promote and enhance all this essential work – and has great potential for helping to improve listening and communication skills and supporting families learning English as an additional language.

Darren Henley’s Review: Music Education in England points to the value of high quality music in children’s lives and Children’s Radio can offer regular access to a wide range of music and song, supporting such initiatives as In Harmony and Sing Up and Youth Music.  Children’s Radio can also be a practical facilitator in any government prompted action following the imminent Review of Cultural Education.

Operating as a not-for-profit public/private partnership the service would:

  • use the unique medium of radio, broadcasting into homes, nursery settings and schools, to support and enrich key aspects of children’s early development including listening, imagination, concentration, communication, language acquisition and social, physical and emotional growth
  • work in partnership with parents and the growing network of early years provision, to promote high quality learning through music and movement, stories, songs and rhymes, together with family guidance and information
  • operate as an open-learning resource, with dedicated faculties for music, literature, arts, health and wellbeing
  • broadcast predominantly in English, and thus have world-wide relevance
  • recognise and respect all established faiths, celebrate diverse cultures and include integrated multicultural strands
  • deliver supporting publications, a complementary World Wide Web service and audio on demand
  • support children with special educational or social needs, including children with particular talents
  • support families learning English as an additional language
  • support home-schooled children 
  • support those marginalised families in isolated rural and deprived inner city areas who may find it hard to access services
  • encourage and improve basic literacy and mathematics in adults who are struggling.
  • inform parents and carers of their social and legal responsibilities and rights

Children’s Radio would support and enrich the growing network of public and privately funded early years provision – working closely with the Sure Start Children’s Centres, now numbering 3.500.

The service would be structured to encourage the child’s natural propensity to discover and learn through play: reinforcing the key aspects of development, for which radio can provide unique support.

It would take account of the educational objectives for communication, language and literacy, including paving the way for phonic work and laying the foundations for reading, writing and mathematics. It would provide a nationwide resource through which to promote and share best practice across a wide range of early-years provision and deliver Central Office of Information [COI] public service messages on health, safety and welfare, financial and social benefits and the wide range of care services.

Children’s Radio would work hand-in-hand with family and child serving organisations in the UK, including The Parenting Academy, The National Children’s Bureau, The Voices Foundation; National Youth Music; The National Literacy Trust; Book Trust; I CAN; The Reading Agency; Every Child a Talker; Every Child a Reader; local libraries, speech and language specialists, the Reggio Emilia, Montessori and Steiner School networks and similar bodies throughout the world.

Children’s Radio would provide a long-term and sustainable resource for children, families and early-years staff in every community.

Programming of the service would be overseen by qualified professionals in child care and education and produced and delivered by professional broadcasters.

Through an integrated training scheme, teachers, the child-care work force and children too would be given the opportunity to acquire the skills to produce and deliver programmes in their own dedicated fields and interests.

Revised from Sound Start strategy documents, 2004/2008/2009

Contact: Susan Stranks – co-ordinator, Sound Start Group

www.sound-start.comNational Campaign for Children’s Radio

www.abracadabraradio.comChildren’s Radio Workshop

T: +44 [0] 1273 777489.


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