A multi-million pound programme to help children overcome speech problems created a “significant improvement” in only two years, according to healthcare professionals in the Black Country.

The £2.75 million Time to Talk programme, launched in Sandwell in November 2006, worked with almost 8,000 pre-school children, using storytelling, creative arts, dance and music to bolster their language skills.

Figures from the Data Intelligence Unit (Children and Young People’s Services) highlighted that, at the start of the programme, 32 per cent of children had concern over speech and language skills. After the programme those with a cause for concern was 21 per cent.