Talk About, the project all Norfolk settings are talking about

The Talk About project provides early years speech, language and communication needs (SLCNs) support in Norfolk.

Following on from the success of the Norfolk based project Every Child A Talker (ECAT), Talk About is a collaborative project which is currently funded by Norfolk County Council. If the project is successful in its aim to raise the quality of speech and language practice within Norfolk’s early years settings, the council may decide to continue funding the scheme. It has been developed and managed by a team of experts at Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust’s Speech and Language Service and provides training for staff who work in a range of early years settings (nurseries, pre-schools, playgroups, reception classes) to assist practitioners in identifying and supporting children (aged 3-5 years old) who are experiencing difficulties in developing their speech, language and communication skills. As professionals we know that speaking, listening and interacting well with others are fundamental skills which are the building blocks to enjoying and achieving in both the early years and in later life. The early childhood years are a critical period for the development of these skills and the best time to implement interventions to support children who are experiencing difficulties.

Since pledging my setting to the project, I have taken on the role of Early Language Lead Practitioner (ELLP) alongside another practitioner from my setting. One of the benefits gained from joining is the abundance of free training offered by the 10 speech and language therapists who form the core group leading the project. Between myself and the deputy ELLP we have attended a range of courses including:

  • Hanen Teacher Talk
  • Every Child A Talker (ECAT) Monitoring
  • Signalong
  • Working with Selective Mutism
  • Early Language Development Programme
  • Expressive Language and Vocabulary Difficulties
  • Speech Sound Difficulties
  • Attention and Listening Difficulties
  • Difficulties Understanding Language
  • Working with Autism and Social Communication Difficulties
  • Working with Stammering
  • Working in Groups to Support Children’s Language
  • Elklan: Speech and Language Support for Under 5s (10 week, level 3 course)

All of these courses have ranged from 3 hours to a whole day or even 10 weeks. Needless to say, it has required some flexible working and attendance of courses outside operating hours. The Elklan course is the longest and most in-depth (completion of a Level 2 or 3 portfolio is recommended at the start of the programme), I intend to write a short review once the final session is complete. Next week will be the penultimate session and I dare say that I will be saddened to finish, despite the Monday evening session time!

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Speech and Language in the Early Years INSET

Speech and Language in the Early Years

In Setting Training Agenda – 2012

The aim of this training is to support and develop practitioners’ understanding of children’s speech, language and communication development, knowledge of normal patterns of development, monitoring practices, effective multi-agency working, fostering parental partnerships and best practices when working with children with communicative difficulties.

10am -12pm Introduction
Why is communication so important?
Language Acquisition Theories
Contemporary Research-based Approaches to Communication
Types of Communicative Difficulties and Impairments
12-12.45pm LUNCH
12.45-3.30pm Practical Application of Theory
Augmentative and Alternative Means of Communication
British Sign Language, Sign Along and Makaton
The role of Early Years Practitioners, Speech and Language Therapists (SALTs) and other professionals

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Full slides and supporting materials (speaker’s notes, appendix, handouts, activity outlines) to follow.

Patricia Kuhl’s The Linguistic Genius of Babies video can be found here.

Charles Limb’s Building the Musical Muscle video can be found here.

Closure of the UEA Early Years Professional Status programme

The Early Years Professional Status training programme delivered by the University of East Anglia is scheduled to cease operation by 2013.

The University of East Anglia (UEA) confirmed that the EYPS course would shut as it is operating at a loss.The university states that running EYP training does not feature in its long-term plans for the School of Education and Lifelong Learning, describing a new focus solely on teacher training and research. UEA has shared £3.4m of East of England consortium funding over three years to provide fully-funded EYPS places with no tuition fees. In a statement UEA said, ‘In the current economic climate, it is important for the university to focus on activities that are viable and that embody the values and priorities outlined in our draft corporate plan for the next five years.Unfortunately, the EYPS course has not recruited enough students and is loss-making. In addition, while we recognise the importance of early years education, this course does not chime with the university’s long-term priorities and ambitions.’ The university said that three members of staff were affected by the closure decision and that 29 EYP students who enrolled in January will finish their 12-month course in January 2013 at UEA.

The University of East Anglia said, ‘In terms of alternative provisions in the future, we have told the consortium that we are very happy to liaise with other HE providers in the area to ensure they will have excellent input.’ The Eastern Leadership Centre is the lead organisation for the East of England consortium, with partners University Campus Suffolk, the University of Hertfordshire and Pen Green Research Centre. Emma Slaughter, service leader (EYPS) at ELC, told Nursery World magazine that fully-funded places for EYP training would continue to be provided in Norfolk and that she did not envisage a drop in the number of applications. Following UEA’s decision to withdraw from EYP training, she said, ‘We’ll work collectively to ensure that there is EYPS provision in Norfolk.We’re considering various options for venues, including using children’s centres, local authority offices and other education providers.’

The East of England region is recruiting now for places to start in September. The closing date for applications is the 4th of May.


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