I CAN secures new funding to help lockdown generation starting secondary school

25 May 2021

I CAN gets new funding to help lockdown generation starting secondary school

I CAN, the children’s communication charity, has been awarded a considerable sum from The Permira Foundation to support hundreds of children who may be struggling with their speaking and understanding skills as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The funding from Permira will enable I CAN to trial its Talk Boost Year 7* programme with 120 young people in 16 mainstream secondary schools. TalkBoost Year 7 is an eight-week programme intervention for groups of up to six children who participate at least twice a week to improve their communication skills. The Permira Foundation have provided funding for the project for 2 years. 

Eight schools will be recruited in the first year across two geographical areas to participate in the project. A further eight schools will then be recruited across the same areas in the second year and will act as a “control group” to the existing schools where the evaluation will take place. At least 32 school staff will be trained in I CAN’s Talk Boost Year 7 using the intervention to develop their understanding of speech and language needs and appropriate strategies to support young people. 

Jane Harris, Chief Executive for I CAN, said:  

“Changing schools can be a daunting time for all children. Especially for those who need help with their speaking and understanding.  The covid-19 pandemic has led to children of all ages missing out on months and months of practising their talking skills in school and this grant from Permira means that together in partnership we can be a catalyst for change and help improve the life prospects of hundreds of school children.” 

Riccardo Basile, a Principal at Permira, said: 

“We are proud to cement our long-standing relationship with I CAN by bringing to fruition its Talk Boost 7 intervention pilot for young pupils with speech and language challenges as they make the transition from primary school to secondary education. That’s why we are pleased to award this funding to I CAN so they can continue their vital work.” 

Funding from The Permira Foundation will also enable the charity to enhance I CAN’s web resources for families. 


*Talk Boost Year 7 is an eight-week intervention for groups of up to six children who participate at least twice a week. 

What is TalkBoost? 

I CAN has successfully developed, tested, evaluated, and disseminated multiple school-based interventions since 2012. The Talk Boost series for Early Years and Key Stages one and two have an excellent track record of enabling children to make accelerated progress with their speech and language in primary school.  

Based on the reach of its existing Talk Boost Key Stage 2 programme, I CAN’s longer-term focus is that at least 100 schools per year take up the intervention. If each school ran the intervention twice in an academic year up to 1,200 students per year would benefit.  

Why is TalkBoost needed? 

A good education is a strong driver for social mobility and there is arguably no greater cause of low educational attainment than speech and language problems. Early language skills at age five are linked with employment outcomes at age 34[i]. In areas of deprivation, the situation is even starker with nearly 50% of children displaying weak oral language skills when they start school (Law et al, 2011). Often described as a ‘word gap’, these difficulties, unless addressed, become entrenched and lead to poor academic performance: young people with speech and language problems are five times less likely to achieve five grade 9-4 passes at GCSE, including English and Math. I CAN believes that the word gap has grown even larger over the lockdown period, as children in deprived areas did not have ready access to the internet or electronic devices to aid their online education / learning.   

About The Permira Foundation 

Formed in 2017, the Permira Foundation was set up to centralise the firm's philanthropic initiatives in the geographies in which the firm operates. Whilst Permira has a long history of being involved in charitable giving, the Permira Foundation ensures a consistent approach to charitable giving across Permira and encourages engagement with the charities alongside financial support. 

Permira supported I CAN last year with a significant donation towards the delivery of Early Talk Boost, and also towards pupils’ laptops to ensure home learning during the recent lockdowns. 

About I CAN 

I CAN is the children’s communication charity, helping those aged 0-19 with speech, language and communication needs find their voice. Our mission is that no child is left out, or left behind, because of difficulties speaking or understanding. Last year alone, we directly supported 84,435 children and young people via our advice line, regional projects, two special schools and evidence-based interventions in mainstream schools. 



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