A £30,000 FUNDING boost has been awarded to a York-based company that developed a soap opera to support staff training.

Early years staff training consultancy Sue Overton Associates, based at Tollerton, has created a drama-based learning programme as part of its work to support managers and supervisors through the introduction and development of staff training.

The programme was developed in September last year, and is based on a fictional soap opera set in a small day nursery.

Sue Overton Associates, which initially received a £4,500 grant to develop the initiative online, has now been granted £30,000 from the Yorkshire Innovation Fund (YIF), a project part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund.

The inspiration for the programme was company founder Ms Overton's observation of continued interest from delegates in what happened to the characters, coupled with a belief, based on a 25-year career in early years learning, that ‘traditional’ learning in an academic setting isn’t the most effective approach for everyone.

She says that the YIF award from York St John University will enable the company to undertake vital research to help establish the value of drama-based learning and take the programme to the next level.

She said: "The concept of learning through drama is already attracting a lot of interest from other organisations and sectors, including national children’s charities and the police force.

"This funding will enable us to commission a formal study looking at the effectiveness of this learning style among early years workers and the positive impact it is having on children in day nurseries.”

Jenny Hall, creative business development manager at York St John, who sits on the Yorkshire Innovation Fund awards panel said this latest award takes the total York St John has given out under the YIF scheme to £120,000.

She said: "YIF is designed to help companies fund the development of new ideas through collaborative projects between businesses and the region’s universities.

"Many new ideas require a blend of skills and expertise to get them off the ground, and working with a local university can help by giving businesses access to expertise, specialist equipment, facilities or new talent to develop those ideas. YIF funds this access."