Cheltenham early years centre wins Shine a Light Award

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Battledown Centre for Children and Families in Cheltenham has been awarded Early Years Setting of the year at the seventh annual Shine a Light awards.


From left to right: judge Jonathan Douglas from the National Literacy Trust, Jane Davis from Battledown Centre for Children and Families, acting headteacher of Battledown Mary King-Stokes, and comedian Sally Phillips

Organised by Pearson in partnership with the Communication Trust, the Shine a Light awards celebrate the good practice of individuals, groups and settings in supporting children and young people’s speech, language and communication.

The awards, which took place last week, recognised 11 winners and 10 highly commended finalists.

Winner of the Early Years Setting of the Year award, Battledown Centre for Children and Families was praised by judges for putting communication firmly at the heart of its practice and ensuring all parents and carers are involved in their children’s development. The setting works with children from birth to the age of seven, who have a wide range of speech, language and communication difficulties.

The centre stays in regular contact with families and runs sessions, led by their family worker, on a range of topics such as fine motor skills, sleep and behaviour. It also operates a play scheme, family drop-in sessions and holidays clubs to further support parents.

There is particular focus on developing children’s confidence and ability to communicate with communication-friendly spaces ,including an allotment area, sensory water garden and mud kitchen.

Jane Davis, safeguarding and premises administrator from Battledown Centre for Children and Families, said, ‘We are very proud of receiving the award. It recognises the hard work our staff do with everything, every day. They always go above and beyond and this award recognises that.’

Finalist Little Squirrels at Redgate Primary School in Liverpool was highly commended.

Primary School of the Year was awarded to Longmoor Primary School in Liverpool and highly commended was with Abbey Catholic Primary School in Birmingham.

Other winners included, Jules Whicher, a parent from Nottingham who received the Communication Champion of the Year award, St Giles School in Derby, which was awarded SEND school/Group of the Year, and the London Bubble Theatre Company, which received the SLCN Innovation of the Year Award.

Host of the 2019 Shine a Light Awards, comedian and writer Sally Phillips, said, ‘The amazing winners and highly commended finalists prove what a difference we can make if we become informed, impassioned and engaged in the speech language and communication needs of those around us.

‘Battledown Centre isn’t just changing the lives of those in their community but also across the UK. I have seen for myself the huge difference expert intervention and support provides for children, like my son, Olly, who has Down syndrome, particularly at a time where we face a nationwide shortage of speech and language therapists.’

Sally was joined by Britain’s Got Talent Winner, Lee Ridley (known as Lost Voice Guy) who performed at the ceremony. Lee has cerebral palsy and uses Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), via voice software on his iPad, to communicate and express himself.

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