The Communication Trust Newsletter
December 2013


In this month's newsletter we take a look back over the busy year that was 2013 at The Communication Trust and we also look forward to 2014...


Policy work in 2013

This year has been extremely busy for the Trust and our Consortium in terms of our policy and public affairs work.

The Children and Families Bill has been making its way through Parliament and the Trust has been involved at every stage, working to ensure that the needs of children and young people with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) and their families are recognised and reflected in the Bill, Code of Practice and accompanying Regulations. Since the draft clauses were published, we have:

  • Submitted written evidence to the Education Committee’s pre-legislative scrutiny into Special Educational Needs (SEN) and also gave oral evidence to the Committee.
  • Met with members of the House of Commons and Lords to discuss key issues for SLCN and provided written briefings for all debates and report stages.
  • Set up the SLCN Parliamentary Working Group and held meetings chaired by Paul Maynard MP, to bring together MPs and Peers with key sector representatives to discuss concerns and solutions.
  • Set up the SLCN Children and Families Bill Task Group with members of our Consortium, the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists and the Special Education Consortium to ensure all aspects of SLCN are reflected in our work around the legislation.
  • Submitted a detailed response on the draft Code of Practice and regulations.

We have had some positive outcomes as a result of our work over the last twelve months and we will continue to work with the Department for Education into 2014 to push for the best possible solutions for young people with SLCN.

In 2013, we have also worked with the Communication Consortium to submit responses to twelve other key policy consultations that impact on children and young people with SLCN.

You can find information about these responses at


Talk of the Town - randomised control trial begins

TOTTTalk of the Town (TOTT) is an integrated community led approach to supporting speech, language and communication in children and young people living in areas of social disadvantage.

TOTT was initially piloted across a small federation of schools in Wythenshawe, South Manchester from 2011 to 2012. The findings from the pilot study were incredibly encouraging and as a result we were offered a grant from the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) in March this year to conduct a randomised control trial research study into the TOTT approach.

The primary aim of TOTT is to evidence the effectiveness of the approach on children’s literacy; it is an opportunity for us to provide evidence for the link between positive language outcomes and the impact on literacy skills.

The key project achievements this year have been:

  • Successfully recruited 64 schools across 3 Local Authorities who have been randomly assigned to either Control or Intervention group categories.
  • Independent baseline assessments have been completed across all project schools, overseen by Queens University Belfast.
  • A core project team has been recruited and they have planned and prepared the programme of interventions, staff workforce development sessions and developed resources.
  • Intervention schools have been grouped into clusters of 5 or 6 by the Local Authorities to support collaborative working and sharing of good practice between schools.
  • A team of 9 Speech and Language Therapists have been recruited to the project via their local NHS Trusts.
  • Project launches, meetings and twilight sessions for the intervention schools have taken place across all 3 participating Local Authorities.

Key priorities for the beginning of 2014 will be:

  • Deliver targeted interventions across the key stages.
  • Begin the programme of staff workforce development sessions and support the ongoing implementation of universal strategies within each classroom.
  • SLTs and school based Communication Leads to complete and submit a progress report every half term to monitor project progress and identify any challenges with project delivery.

Find out more at


Platform 3: Learn, Study, Qualify

Funded by the Department for Education’s VCS Grant scheme, we are developing and piloting Platform 3 - an innovative online learning route for delivering the Level 3 accredited qualification: Supporting Children and Young People’s Speech, Language and Communication.

Platform 3 will help early years practitioners, from a wide range of backgrounds and locations, to access this Level 3 CPD award. Consisting of two mandatory and one optional units, the Award enables the children’s workforce to develop the knowledge and skills needed to effectively encourage all children’s speech, language and communication development and identify and support those who are struggling. As well as studying online you will be supported by an assessor to be assessed and accredited online to gain your qualification.

This will then help enable settings, through a better qualified workforce, to provide high quality early education in relation to children’s speech, language and communication.

We have partnered with the three Awarding Organisations currently offering the Award: apt awards, CACHE and City & Guilds. In addition, we have learner partners who are helping us to recruit cohorts of committed learners. We are currently working with our online provider to create an innovative e–learning and assessment route as well as recruiting approved centres and learners. We aim to roll out mainstream delivery from April 2015.

New resources launched

A Generation Adrift

A Generation AdriftAt the beginning of this year we held an event at the House of Commons where we launched a new research paper, A Generation Adrift.

A Generation Adrift draws together research which shows that many children and young people are not being adequately supported to develop good communication skills and children withSLCN are often misunderstood or missed altogether. It shows that high numbers of children living in poverty have SLCN and one-third are not working securely in speech, language and communication when they reach five-years-old.

To download the paper please go to

Listen to Us

Listen To UsIn February we launched Listen To Us - a practical resource for people providing training support or professional development in SLCN, mainly reflecting specific language impairments (SLI).

It includes a DVD of carefully chosen clips showing children and young people with speech, language and communication needs and a supporting booklet, offering some questions for reflection on top of the DVD. The DVD supports people as part of their initial training or as part of their continuing professional development.

To order your copy please go to

Communication Supporting Classroom Observation Tool

This tool was developed as part of the Better Communication Research Programme in 2012. It's designed to be used in an observation of a classroom or a learning space by someone other than the adult working with the children. It will help build an understanding of the oral language environment of the classroom and can be used in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 classrooms and other early years learning spaces.

The tool also gives you the opportunity to which staff use specific ways of talking with the children and gives examples of what you might observe.

To download the tool please click here.


What Works microsite launched

At the end of March 2013, we launched the What Works microsite - an interactive database of evidenced interventions to support positive outcomes in children’s speech, language and communication. The website is the result of a partnership between us and the Better Communication Research Programme. It is the first time that the evidence base for SLCN interventions has been brought together in one place to help practitioners find the most appropriate support for the children and young people they work with.

We have established a Moderating Group made up of representatives from the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists and leading academics in speech and language to oversee the development of the database. The Moderating Group to consider new submissions to the database as well as to discuss feedback from practitioners and the latest sector research.

Since the launch we are delighted that nearly 5,500 practitioners have signed up to use the resource. 

  • “It provides speech and language therapists with the encouragement and some of the tools required to do evidence-based work and to demonstrate the appropriateness and the effectiveness of their interventions. Very relevant as commissioners will be asking about outcomes.”
  • “It collects in one place information and evidence about all the approaches I use. Finally!”

In 2014, we will be continuing our consultation with practitioners to ensure that the site is as useful as possible, and undertaking some research on how better access to the evidence base is impacting on practice.

Find out more at


Communication Leaders

Communication LeadersCommunication Leaders is an exciting new initiative that began in May, which gives children and young people aged 11-19 a unique leadership role in supporting communication skills within their communities. The project is young person led and is being piloted over 2 years with 4 partner locations: Battersea, Wythenshawe, Newark and Clacton-On-Sea. Children and young people are supported to become Communication Leaders within their community, leading activities with their families, younger, primary aged children or their peers.

Communication Leaders complete regular activities and receive training and resources to enhance their skills and knowledge. They are supported by mentors in their school, as well as a local Speech and Language Therapist. We also have some brilliant volunteers supporting the project. The students are really embracing their roles to date, and have already come up with some fantastic ideas on how to better their activities!

All resources for Communication Leaders to use have been produced, two training sessions have been held in each area and the students have started their activities. We are working with each partner to shape the project so that it fits their individual community and compliments other activities that are already ongoing. Students will get the chance to input into the pilot so that it is shaped by their own experiences and input.

For more information, please contact Amy Harker


No Pens Day Wednesday 2013

“We all, staff and children, thoroughly enjoyed it and will be doing it again next year.”

NPDWNo Pens Day Wednesday 2013 was the third year of the national speaking and listening event. It was our most popular event by far with over 2,480 schools signed up by the big day to take part, reaching combined pupil numbers of over 1 million!

The following information is taken from the evaluation survey schools took part in and outlines some of the brilliant effects and impact of the day:

  1. 89% of respondents said that taking part in No Pens Wednesday Day raised their awareness of SLCN.
  2. 69% said they’d do things differently around school as a result of their involvement.
  3. The most popular reason for schools taking part in No Pens Day Wednesday was because they wanted to improve pupils understanding of the importance of speaking and listening skills (51%), closely followed by wanting to improve staff understanding of the importance of speaking and listening skills (46%), because it’s a fun and engaging initiative (46%) and because they had run it successfully before (42%).
  4. Excitingly, 85% of respondents said they would like to take their focus on communication further and would be interested in finding out more about our new resource for schools, The Communication Commitment.

We’ll be working to build on learnings from the day and from the feedback we’ve had from schools to make No Pens Day Wednesday 2014 even better, but for now a huge thanks to all those who got involved in making 2013 such a successful event!

Find out more at





The Communication Commitment

CommitmentIn October this year we launched another microsite - a new resource to support schools develop their whole school approach to communication - The Communication Commitment.

The interactive website was created in response to feedback we’ve had from schools saying they’d benefit from a resource that draws together all the information they need to improve their focus on communication. 

So far we’ve had almost 500 schools sign up already! We’re also getting lots of really interesting enquiries and requests from professionals across England, keen to find ways of working together to expand and develop the Commitment for different settings.

Things are only going to get more exciting for the Commitment in 2014 when we’ll be working to make the Commitment a one-stop-shop for schools working hard to implement the 2014 SEND Reforms.

We’ll keep supporters up to date with progress and look forward to continuing to hear from schools already making their Commitment.

  • “The Communication Commitment has been introduced at a perfect time for us, when we really want to further enhance the communication skills of our students, get parents involved and work closely with outside partnerships.”
  • "Being well aware of the importance of communication and how the level of a child's communication drives achievement I was delighted to take part in the Communication Commitment. With the objective of all our children having better outcomes in all areas of education I introduced the Commitment firstly to the Head Teacher and then through a whole school staff meeting... Staff have become so enthused that we have decided to try to complete as many of objectives possible before the end of the school year."
Find out more at



The aim of the qualifications work is to ensure better outcomes for children by improving the skills of the workforce. We will do this by continuing to support more Local Authorities to deliver the Level 3 Qualification, Supporting Children and Young People’s Speech, Language and Communication, therefore making it more widely available to practitioners. We will continue to build on the key work already done in this area to provide simple and yet effective time-saving solutions for Local Authorities such as; decision making flow charts, to help Local Authorities see where they are now and the simplest most effective route for them to offer the award, mapping packs to map current training to the Award and how to guides.

As part of the early years reforms set out in More Affordable Childcare, from September 2014 initial qualifications for early years practitioners leading to Early Years Educator status will need to meet a series of full and relevant criteria. You may remember that we responded to the consultation on this, and as a result there is now a strong and clear focus on speech, language and communication within these criteria.

We have been continuing to turn this policy into practice and have:

  • Mapped out where learning outcomes from the Level 3 qualification ‘Supporting Children and Young People’s Speech, Language and Communication’ link to the full and relevant criteria.
  • Shared this information with the National College of Teaching and Leadership who has responsibility for these qualifications.
  • Shared this information with Awarding Organisations who are now busy developing their qualifications in line with the criteria.

The idea behind this work is to make sure that key organisations are aware that there are already strong learning outcomes and units of qualification which could simply drop into these new qualifications.


The Communication Council

The Communication Council is a co-production facility chaired by representatives from The Department for Education and The Department of Health. The Council works to share learning and information about children and young people’s speech, language and communication and SLCN across a wide audience to ensure they are reflected in policy and practice.

In particular the Council has been focussing on ways to ensure commissioners and those who will be responsible for planning in the 2014 reforms are aware of the importance and prevalence of SLCN for children and young people in their areas.

This work is coming together in a free conference being held by the Council and supported by the Department for Education and Department of Health in February 2014. The conference will support local and national decision makers in commissioning cost-efficient, effective SLCN provision in light of the Special Educational Needs & Disability (SEND) Reforms. It will draw on evidence presented in the Better Communication Research Programme, funded by the Department for Education, to help delegates better understand SLCN issues and effective commissioning to meet local need.

As the secretariat to the Council, we are organising this event in partnership with the RCSLT. If you know or have links to relevant commissioners in your area please forward this flyer on to them and ask them to register for this exciting free event. Bringing the essential importance of children and young people’s SLCN to the attention of this key audience is vital and we really appreciate your support in sharing information about this event with your local commissioners.

Local Champions

Local ChampionsDuring the Hello campaign in 2011, a legion of local co-ordinators were crucial in generating engagement in the importance of children’s speech, language and communication. Learning from Hello and changes to the political landscape, we are now recruiting Local Communication Champions who can link the activities of the Trust to the context of their local area. Our Local Champions, are helping us to support children’s communication to reach the top of the local agenda in your area as well as gain a higher national profile.

To date we have more than 80 Champions, from a range of areas who are already inputting to our cause. A dedicated intranet site has been created with tailored information that only our champions can access.

For more information, please contact


Looking forward to 2014...

Thank you to everyone who has supported us during 2013. All the projects described above will continue to run and develop from strength to strength in 2014 and we're particularly looking forward to...

Shine a LightShine a Light

Together with Pearson Assessment we will be running the Shine a Light Awards next year to recognise teams, settings and individuals across England who support children and young people's communication needs.

This year two new awards categories have been introduced to widen the scope and offer other services a chance to showcase their best practice. The Working Together Award and Children's Workforce Award will sit alongside popular categories, such as the early year's settings and the innovation awards. A new award has also been introduced to celebrate the launch of our new initiative the 'Communication Commitment'.

The awards website - - is open for applications until 11.59 pm on 10th January 2014. An awards ceremony will take place in March 2014 in London.

Initial Teacher Training

We will be continuing to work with training providers to look at a range of ways to ensure that all new teachers, whatever the age and phase, understand the role of communication, can identify children who are struggling and effectively support those with SLCN.

To support this we are developing further materials and resources for Initial Teacher Training that will include the following:

  • A survey for providers to find out what they currently do in relation to speech, language and communication/SLCN.
  • A checklist/audit linked to the teaching standards for providers to use in order to identify where speech, language and communication currently features in their provision.
  • A suite of learning activities which providers can use either as a whole or individually ‘dropped in’ to relevant areas of their programme.
  • Specialist-led workshop for trainees on SLCN.
  • Sessions on developing mentors.
  • Evaluation of the impact that this has on embedding speech, language and communication into good teaching practice.

Speech, Language and Communication Progression Tools

We are currently developing a suite of new resources which aim to support teaching staff to identify children who may be struggling to develop their speech, language and communication skills. They can also be used to track progression of these skills over time or following interventions.

Find out more at

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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