The Communication Trust Newsletter
September 2013


The Communication Trust is a coalition of nearly 50 voluntary and community organisations with expertise in speech, language and communication. We harness our collective expertise to support the children’s workforce and commissioners to support all children and young people’s communication skills, particularly those with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN).

Our newsletters contain information about the work of The Trust, how we're continuing the legacy of the 2011 Hello campaign and provide updates from our Consortium members.


No Pens Day Wednesday - 2 weeks to go

NPDWWith the 9th October rapidly approaching things are in full swing for a fantastic No Pens Day Wednesday 2013!

All the new 2013 resources are up and proving really popular - we’ve had over 2,000 schools register to take part - that’s nearly 1 million pupils who are getting involved! 

We’ve also heard from schools who are taking part about some of the fantastic activities they’ve got planned - from maths bingo to thought tunnels. No Pens Day Wednesday is helping primary and secondary schools across the country to get creative with their speaking and listening activities.

If you’ve got exciting plans for the day we’d really love to hear from you! Drop us an email on outlining the plans you’ve got for the day and we’ll use our social media channels to share them with other schools and inspire them to get creative too! Alternatively you could tweet us at @Comm_nTrust or contact us via our Facebook page.

Not signed up yet...?
If your school hasn’t registered for No Pens Day Wednesday yet there’s still time -
visit  to register to take part.

While stocks last we’ll be sending out a sheet of stickers to all new schools who sign up to No Pens Day Wednesday over the next few days - so get in quick to get your stickers!

If you’ve already signed up to NPDW 2013 and want a sheet of stickers for your school, get in touch to let us know and we’ll get a sheet out to you while stocks last:

Planning priorities
You’ll find the following information in the 2013 Activity Pack but just as a reminder, here’s some priorities for your No Pens Day Wednesday planning with two weeks to go:

  • Ensure all teachers have discussed with their pupils the plans to participate in No Pens Day Wednesday, including seeking their views on taking part and asking their ideas on how the day should be run
  • Ensure all staff are aware of the day
  • Identify ‘a budding photographer’ in your school or community who can take pictures of your No Pens Day Wednesday activity
  • Send a letter to parents – you may decide to invite parents into the school assembly or to see what’s happening in the classrooms
  • Prepare your own certificates for the day (if using)


And don't forget, we'll soon be launcing the Communication Commitment...

CommitmentThe Communication Commitment is a simple way to develop a whole-school approach to communication through a user-friendly website, developed in partnership with schools. It recognises that all schools and pupils are different, and helps you on your communication journey from wherever your own school’s starting point is. It gives you the help you need to move forward in making communication a part of your school’s policy and practice, in the way that works best for your school and pupils.

Through the Communication Commitment site, you will assess where you are already at in terms of embedding communication development across your school. You will then be guided to choose five actions that best suit your school and the needs of your pupils. These will create your personalised Commitment Action Plan that you will be able to print and share with your colleagues, pupils and wider school community. We’ll provide lots of free resources and guidance that will help you achieve these actions and you will also have the chance to share ideas with like-minded schools across England.

If when you’ve completed your Action Plan you feel you’d like to take it further, we’ll direct you to our expert member organisations who can offer a range of support including training and consultancy services as well as full accreditation programmes, to help you build on what you’ve already achieved.

The Commitment is being made possible through the support of Pearson and the Department for Education and will be launched later this term so please watch this space!


Voice Box

Voice BoxWe've teamed up with the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) to launch Voice Box 2013 – a national joke-telling competition designed to raise awareness of the fun and importance of communication.

RCSLT are inviting mainstream primary and special schools in England to work on their own, or with their speech and language therapists, to hold a joke-telling competition between 2nd September and 4th October 2013. You then send RCSLT the winning joke from your school by Monday 7th October and a judging panel will shortlist the 10 best jokes they receive.

RCSLT will invite the shortlisted joke tellers and their parent or guardian to the Houses of Parliament on Monday 28th October for a national final, hosted by The Rt Hon John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons.

For more information please click here.


Become a Local Champion for The Communication Trust!

The Trust relies on brilliant, local practitioners who are able to spread the word on the importance of speech, language and communication where it is needed most. There is now the chance to continue this vital activity and become a ‘Local Champion’ for The Communication Trust.

We all know that the government’s  proposals to reform provision for children and young people with special educational needs will be implemented in September 2014 and are likely to have a big impact locally.  The Trust has been working closely on the Children and Families Bill to try and ensure the best deal for children with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN). To ensure this work benefits and empowers practitioners working on the ground and dealing on a daily basis with the new systems, we want to work to support local champions like you.

A large focus of our work with you over the next 12 months will be to provide you with all of the information you need to help prepare for the changes in September 2014 and to learn from you and share with others what the reforms really look like on the ground.

Based on survey feedback to date, an outline of what you will get out of the new voluntary role is:

  1. Access to a dedicated web page of information
    *This will include information on resources and relevant news from the sector, as well as interesting and relevant policy updates
  2. Bespoke email updates with latest news from the Trust
  3. Updates on the political landscape, including information on changes
    *This will include up-to-date information on policy consultation responses submitted by the Trust as well as briefing papers and links to further information about policy activity around the Children and Families Bill and the SEND reform agenda more widely.
  4. A chance to showcase your good work nationally and share best practise with others
    *We are really keen to share best practise and to hear about the great things you are doing. We would therefore like to share this with the Local Champions group to create a network of shared information. We would also really like to showcase a list of our Local Champions, allowing you to network with others who are also championing the cause!
  5. A chance to show off your good work - add your role to your signature and your CV!

An outline of what your role would include:

  1. Awareness raising: Champion the cause where you live and work
    *We would really like to hear about your good work, and to publicise it both within the group and beyond. This will also help us share local examples when working on national policy changes.
  2. Striving for best practise: Signpost to resources and training – there are many activities to support the children and young people’s workforce.
  3. Local policy: Have your say and highlight issues of concern regarding speech, language and communication and Speech Language and Communication Needs (SLCN)
    * Your essential practical information about how policy reforms are having an impact on your day to day practice will allow us to echo this in our lobbying and policy work. Where you can provide us with case studies about what’s happening in your local area and services we will include them in our consultation responses and briefing papers for parliamentarians.
  4. Feeding back: Is there brilliant work going on in your local area? Tell us about it! We want to hear about people who are making a difference to children and young people.
If you are interested in becoming a Local Champion, or you have any questions, then please email Amy Harker as soon as possible. The first Local Champion email update will be sent out in the 1st week of October. If you are interested in the role, we’d also value some information about your job and how you see the role of Local Champion fitting in with it.

Resource of the month - Small Talk

Small TalkLearning to talk is one of the most important skills a child will ever learn. They need to be able to communicate with the people around them so they can learn, make friends, sort out problems and have fun.

But learning to talk doesn’t happen by accident, it needs support from their parents to make this happen.

The booklet Small Talk is for parents to help encourage the development of their child’s speaking and listening skills and it will also explain roughly what a child should be doing at a certain age.

Suitable for parents who have children between the ages of birth and 5, it explains what a child will usually be doing at their age, ways to see if they’re doing certain things and suggests things they can do with their child to support their learning.

It also has a checklist for parents to use if they’re not sure whether their child’s communication skills are on track.

Small Talk has been developed by The Communication Trust and is available to buy from

Early Support - School years developmental journal

Early SupportThe School Years Developmental Journal is designed to help parents, young people, teachers and other practitioners record, celebrate and support learning and development. It also helps everyone to share information, supporting a key working approach.

Young people may like to make the Journal their own when they reach an age where this is appropriate.

The Journal is particularly useful if a child or young person has an additional need or disability. The School Years Developmental Journal follows on from the Early Years Developmental Journal and includes behaviours that most typically developing children and young people show during their time at school and beyond, i.e. from when they are aged five to 18 years and above.

To download the Journal and find out more information please click here.


Updates from the Autism Education Trust

AET Please find below an update from the Autism Education Trust (AET) on their work:

  • Early Years and Post 16 training hubs competition now open: The AET is now inviting applications for four new Early Years hubs and four new Post 16 hubs to trial and deliver the new training programmes currently being developed.  
    Apply for Early Years hubs
    Apply for Post 16 hubs

  • New AET Programme Administrator needed: The AET is looking for a new part-time administrator, closing date is Friday 27 September. Find out more information here.

  • AET Hubs support NASEN SEN learning events: NASEN is holding 8 FREE learning events across the country during November to support consultation on the Draft SEN Code of Practice. Find out more information here.

  • Making the Driving Theory Test more accessible for people with autism: The AET has been advising the Driving Standards Agency on making the Theory Test more accessible to people on the autism spectrum. Find out more information here.

If you would like to find out more about the work of AET please click here, you can also sign up to receive their e-newsletter on this page too.





New information packs published on the SEND Pathfinder Programme

The Pathfinder Support Team have published the second set of information packs on the SEND Pathfinder Programme. The packs include evidence of good practice from across the Pathfinders including case studies and helpful resources.

You can download the information packs at


NCB report Greater Expectations published

Greater ExpectationsGreater Expectations, examines 12 key indicators to determine whether children in this country are still experiencing inequality and disadvantage and finds that the situation today appears to be no better than it was nearly five decades ago.

In Greater Expectations the National Children's Bureau is calling for urgent action to address the poverty and disadvantage that still wreaks havoc on children's lives, causing them to lag far behind their more affluent peers in almost all areas of their lives, from health to education, early development to housing.

Furthermore, a comparison with other developed nations shows that a lack of ambition for children growing up in this country causes children to suffer unnecessarily and risks these patterns of disadvantage becoming permanent features of our society.

Find out more and watch the short animated film about the report at


Let’s talk quality! 4Children conference

4ChildrenQuality in the early years is in the spotlight! There is overwhelming evidence that children’s life chances are determined by their development in the first years of their life. It is therefore crucial that services for 0-5 put children’s life chances at the forefront of everything that they deliver. Children who get off to the best start have the best chance of success for the future.

‘Let’s talk quality! Making early year’s quality achievable for all’ conference will bring together experts from across the early years sector, to discuss and debate quality in the early years, and how it is achievable and sustainable in a world where budgets are being constrained.

The conference will address and debate:

  • What the Government’s vision is for Early Years
  • The journey to outstanding – continuous quality improvement
  • How to ensure quality is delivered within the EYFS
  • Evaluation of Early Education in England
  • How leadership is one of the key ingredients in quality in the early years
  • Health – integrated health review, importance of attachment and nutrition in early years settings
  • Developing quality practice – 2 year olds, 3 year olds and quality reception practice

Date and location: Thursday 10th October 2013 – London

To book or for more information please visit or call the Events Team on 0207 522 6970.

News from our members

The Communication Trust is a consortium of nearly 50 voluntary sector organisations. We bring together our expertise to ensure that the speech, language and communication needs of all children and young people are met through signposting, specialist training, support and guidance to people working with children.

If your organisation would like to become a member of The Communication Trust’s Consortium please go to or for more information e-mail

AAAAmbitious about Autism - Family support seminars

Ambitious about Autism are running a series of five family support seminars, covering all areas for parents and carers of children and young people with autism. The seminars are also suitable for professionals.

The seminars will cover the following subjects:

  • SEN statements: What you need to know – 22 October 2013
  • How to get social care support while your child is in education – 25 November 2013
  • School exclusions: Know your rights – 30 January 2014
  • How to achieve a successful transition to adulthood – 27 March 2014
  • Understanding the new SEN legal system under the Children and Families Bill – 29 May 2014

To find out more please click here.

Contact a FamilyContact a Family - New carers, family and friends section on their website

On this new section of their website Contact a Family have tips to help reduce stress for families and carers of disabled children. Based on their face to face information sessions conducted last year, their new web section Carers, family and friends, aims to help parents and carers reduce stress in key areas.

Also, free printed copy of Holiday, play and leisure guide

It's now available from their helpline on 0808 808 3555 exclusively for families of disabled children, you can also download the guide here. It includes where to find suitable play and leisure facilities, financial help that may be available ,ideas for suitable days out, your child's rights to access playgrounds and leisure facilities and short breaks for carers.

I CANI CAN’s Chatterbox Challenge - Sounds Like fun with Humf is open for registrations now!

I CAN, the children’s communication charity, have launched their 13th annual Chatterbox Challenge this month. With sponsorship from Openreach and TTS, and the continued support of Humf from the popular children’s TV show, I CAN are calling on as many early years groups as possible to get involved to make this year’s event the best yet. Over 150 groups have already registered for the Challenge so far.

Chatterbox Challenge: Sounds like fun with Humf develops the communication skills of the under 5s through learning and performing songs and rhymes based on sounds, noises and even silence to highlight the difficulties faced by 1.2 million children in the UK with their speech, language and communication.

Chatterbox Challenge activities have been written by I CAN speech and language therapists and teachers and activities are linked to the EYFS prime areas ‘Communication and Language’ and ‘Personal, Social and Emotional Development’. The Challenge activities can be used with all children, including those with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN).

Chatterbox Challenge Week is 10-16th February 2014. Early years groups are encouraged to register now at

The Makaton CharityThe Makaton Charity - Tell us what you think!

The Makaton Charity is trying to learn more about the children and adults who need to use Makaton to communicate and the people who share their lives.  Learning about your personal Makaton experience will enable us to improve our services and help people more effectively in the future.

A huge thank you to everyone who has completed the survey so far, we’ve had a fantastic response!

The survey will close on 30th September, so if you haven’t had your say yet, please fill in the survey as soon as possible. Thank you!

My Say

NLTNational Literacy Trust - Talk To Your Baby conference

This year's conference, 'Giving babies the best start: what we know works and what's new' will take place on 25 November in Central London.

Delegates from across the early years, healthcare, and education, cultural and third sectors come back year after year to learn, share best practice and be inspired.

NLT are delighted to announce a great line-up of expert speakers that will give early years professionals the guidance and support they need to deliver outstanding provision.

Please click here to find out more and book your place.

Contact us

If you would like to contact us please call 0207 843 2526 or email
The Communication Trust, 8 Wakley Street, London, EC1V 7QE


Sentence Trouble:
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