THE TALK PROGRAMME. AN EXAMPLE OF A LOW IMPACT, HIGH OUTCOME COMMUNITY BASED INTERVENTION IMPLEMENTED IN AN EDUCATIONAL SETTING
Pike, L.T. and Cohen, L., Edith Cowan University and Drew, N., University of Western Australia, Australia
The TALK programme is a language enrichment and social skills enhancement programme originating in the USA. It is used in an educational context with young children who are identified as "at risk" in these aspects of their development as a result of impoverished home backgrounds or lack of parental involvement. The major principles underpinning the programme are (1) young children need exposure to good models of adult conversation and verbal skills if they are to engage with fellow students and school staff in a constructive way; (2) children who are ill-equipped to express themselves through verbal interactions may resort to physical violence, disruptive behaviours or delinquent acts that are not conducive to the development of a sense of belonging to the school, or the fostering of a sense of community within the school. Such was the scenario in a local primary school. Senior school personnel were concerned about growing numbers of children engaging in antisocial behaviours in and out of classrooms and the increased level of vandalism targetted at the school perpetrated by these children. Many of the children had been identified as "at risk" by virtue of the school's designation as a 'priority school', a term used to designate schools operating in districts characterised as low socio-economic or disadvantaged. Against this background, a pilot implementation of the TALK programme was undertaken. This involved cooperation between the school and the local university and in particular, a group of 4th year community psychology students. The paper will present an overview of the programme implementation, key findings from pre and post- programme evaluations of the school children's behaviours, as well as insights into the success of the programme from the staff and the community students involved.