Awards celebrate practitioners' excellent practice in speech and language

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Wentworth Nursery School in Hackney has been named Early Years Setting of the Year at the third annual Shine a Light awards ceremony in London.

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Wentworth Nursery School in Hackney was named the Early Years Setting of the Year at the Shine a Light awards

Sponsored by Pearson Assessment and the Communication Trust, and honouring innovative work and excellent practice in supporting children and young people’s communication development, the awards recognised 16 winners and 13 highly commended finalists.

Wentworth was praised for its commitment and dedication to supporting children’s communication development, particularly its work with parents and families.

The nursery runs termly outings to the park with parents and children to promote good communication strategies and holds coffee mornings to discuss ways to support children at home.

The nursery has a dedicated part of its website to support home learning and children with individual communication needs meet with support staff each term. Children identified as having speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) are provided with individual support, including visual timetables and a daily language group. Every member of staff can communicate using Makaton signs.

Chris Hall, managing director of Pearson Assessment and Shine a Light Award judge, said, ‘It gives me great pleasure to congratulate Wentworth Nursery School for their well deserved win. Their strong emphasis on early identification acts as an exemplar for other early years settings. We have been blown away by this year’s nominations and seen some truly inspiring examples of work being carried out to support children and young people with SLCN.’

Hackney was recognised in a number of award categories, including Primary School of the Year, which was won by the borough’s Millfields Community School, and the SLCN Innovation award, which honoured social enterprise Artburst Ltd for its educational workshops and Speak Out programme dedicated to improving the speaking and literacy skills of young people in the area.

Donna Davies, learning support coordinator at Wentworth Nursery School, said, ‘We were the runner-up last year and this motivated us to continue with our hard work, so we’re really proud to have won. What we’re doing is right for the children.

'I'm a Hackney girl and I'm pleased Hackney children are getting a good start in life. We have had so many Hackney winners this year, it is an excellent borough for supporting all children's communication development and particularly for those with difficulties.’

I CAN

Organisations linked to children’s communication charity I CAN also captured a number of awards at the ceremony.

The Kirby Collaborative of Schools, which took part in I CAN’s A Chance to Talk project in 2010-12, () was named joint winner of the Commissioning Award for its use of speech and language services to ensure improved outcomes for children aged between four and seven.

The Early Language Development Group from Wyre and Fylde in North Lancashire and the Children’s Centre Speech and Language Team from North Somerset were highly commended in the Children’s Workforce Award and Working Together Award respectively. The teams both trained on I CAN’s Early Language Development Programme for sharing early years training and supporting parents to develop their children’s communication skills.

GALA CELEBRATIONS

Earlier this year, I CAN staged a gala concert hosted by the Duchess of Cornwall in support of its Million Lost Voices appeal, marking the final event in its 125th anniversary calendar.

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The London Chamber Orchestra performed for an audience of 130 at the concert in St James’s Palace, London. 

The Million Lost Voices Appeal has raised over £2million since its launch in 2011 and to mark I CAN’s 125th anniversary aims to raise £1.25million in the next three years to help three- to- 11-year-olds with communication difficulties.

Previous celebrations in the charity’s 125th anniversary calendar included an evening at Speaker’s House in the Palace of Westminster hosted by BBC correspondent Michael Buerk and attended by children and families minister Edward Timpson.