Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Shining a light on schools communication by Lynne Milford, Press Officer

Communication is very much a 'buzz topic' for schools, as national education policy places more and more emphasis on children having good speech, language and communication skills. In the coming months, we will see a lot of schools introducing communication-friendly activities.

But in some schools, good communication is already close to their heart and The Communication Trust and Pearson Assessment are keen to reward them through the Shine a Light Awards 2012. The awards are an opportunity to reward and share good practice, as well as raising awareness of good speech, language and communication.

There are two school categories in the Shine a Light 2012 awards - one for primary and one for secondary schools and colleges – as well as awards for Young Person of the Year, Communication Champion and ‘Innovation Award’ among others. Judges are looking for schools where speech, language and communication development is a priority and where children with SLCN are spotted early and supported. They're also looking for schools which involve parents and work in partnership with other agencies to support children's speech, language and communication.

Watercliffe Meadow School with Vanessa Feltz
 Last year Watercliffe Meadow Primary School in Sheffield scooped the 'Communication Friendly Award – Primary Schools', receiving praise from the judges for its aim of 'getting things right from the start'.

The school places such a high priority on involving parents that staff created a series of five workshops for all families to attend, which allowed the teachers to work with the parents and children together, as well as giving them learning to take home. The school day is also designed from the child’s point of view, with a quarter of the day spent in play situations so children can practise talking in a natural setting.

To read more about Watercliffe Meadow Primary School’s success, click here.

Tricia Lang and Marie Underwood from Preston Manor School
 Preston Manor School in Wembley won the ‘Communication Friendly Award - Secondary Schools’ after impressing judges with a project demonstrating joint-working between their Speech and Language Base and the Department of English. They targeted a group of Year 7 pupils and created opportunities to promote speaking and listening as part of the curriculum. The school also took the Hello campaign to its heart, using it as an inspiration, creating a ‘Year of Communication’ noticeboard so pupils and staff could see the ‘Focus of the Week’ and the materials available.

To read more about Preston Manor’s work, click here.

Now you’ve seen what we’re looking for - does your school place a similar emphasis on pupils developing good speech, language and communication skills? Have you created innovative practices which have shown good results with your pupils? If so, you could be eligible for the Shine a Light Awards 2012. You can download an application form here.

If you’re not a school, do not despair – we have a range of other categories, including Youth Justice Award, Communication Champion and a Commissioning Award. Check out the microsite for more information.

The closing date for applications has been extended to October 10th.

Good luck!

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