The Department for Education (DfE) has launched an accreditation process for developers of early years literacy, language or communication apps.

Developers can have their early years apps reviewed by an independent educational and technical panel and any that meet the specified criteria will be awarded a DfE quality mark. In the autumn, the DfE will publish a list of quality-marked apps and will then give free access to two of the highest-quality apps to disadvantaged two to four-year-olds within 12 pilot areas.

The move is part of a society-wide push by the Government to encourage disadvantaged parents to kick-start their children’s early language and literacy skills at home. The apps will focus on early language, literacy and communication and are designed to help parents think about how to use screen time constructively and provide meaningful learning activities for their young children in the years before they start Reception.

The DfE says these plans reaffirm an ambition set last year to halve the proportion of children leaving Reception without the early literacy, language and communications skills they need by 2028.

Families in the following areas will benefit from the apps pilot free of charge from next year.

  • Middlesbrough

  • Oldham

  • Halton

  • Stoke-On-Trent

  • Sandwell

  • Leicester

  • Enfield

  • Tower Hamlets

  • Brent

  • Peterborough

  • Luton

  • Plymouth.

Areas to take part in the pilot were chosen based on factors including the proportion of children achieving below the expected level of development in communication, language and literacy at age five, as well as a focus on some of the most deprived communities.

Children and Families Minister Kemi Badenoch said:

“A great education is the key to unlocking every child’s potential and ensuring no-one is left behind. We want to work together with families to give all children the best possible start and support parents to begin the learning process at home.”

“Digital technology means there is a wealth of fun activities at parents’ fingertips, but the content of these is important too. That’s why we want to help parents make confident, informed choices about the resources they use, so they can help inspire a love of learning in their children.”

Last reviewed 12 August 2019