Clarks staff to teach language skills to children while fitting shoes

Employees at shoe Clarks are to be trained to improve children's language skills while fitting them for shoes.

Around 6,500 staff will be trained to develop children's vocabulary and help build their confidence in social situations.

Around6,500 staff will be trained over the summer.

Around6,500 staff will be trained over the summer.

They will be taught to strike up conversation with toddlers while they try on shoes, so they can practise talking and responding to questions.

Training will take place over the summer so that Clarks staff are able to talk to children who are bought to the shop by their parents to buy school shoes ahead of the new school year.

The company, whose initiative is part of a government scheme to improve early language skills, will pay for the training.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds branded the home learning environment for children as the "last taboo". He wants to halve the number of five-year-old children who do not have speaking and writing skills adequate for their age.

An Oxford University Press study last year found more than 40% of five and six year olds did not know enough words to do well in school.

Clarks joins WH Smith, Harper Collins, KPMG and Lego who will also take part in the scheme.