The Robert Mellors Primary and Nursery School Foundation Unit in Arnold, Nottingham, has been awarded the Early Years Setting of the Year award at a glittering awards ceremony in London, hosted by comedian David Baddiel, for their carefully measured impact on children’s development, well-rounded training programme and number of varied, innovative practices.
The 2015 Shine a Light Awards are a national awards scheme organised by Pearson in partnership with The Communication Trust to celebrate innovative work, inspirational individuals and excellent practice in supporting children and young people’s communication development.
Robert Mellors Primary and Nursery School Foundation unit, who work closely with Sure Start, which aims to give children the “best possible start in life” through improvement of childcare, early education, and health and family support, with an emphasis on outreach and community development.
All areas of the school, inside and out, have planned language and vocabulary opportunities, but the unit itself has embraced many different programmes and training, having been part of the Talk2Learn pilot study, part of the schools closing the gap agenda, to evaluate the use of targeted interventions and training from a speech and language therapist (SLT).
Staff have also been trained in I CAN’s Talk Boost initiative, Narrative Groups, Listening and Attention Groups and Signs and Symbols training. Where additional assessments were needed, the school has used The Communication Trust’s Speech, Language and Communication Progression Tools to identify the support that children require and all foundation staff have completed training in Let’s Interact, which focuses on a range of strategies to support children’s speech, language and communication needs (SLCN).
Juliet Clark, Assistant Headteacher and EYFS Lead at Robert Mellors Primary and Nursery School Foundation Unit, said: “We are thrilled to have won the Early Years Setting of the Year award at the 2015 Shine a Light Awards for our work supporting children with their communication.
“Provision for speech, language and communication underpins everything we do. On entry, many children have a speech and language delay – especially for our most disadvantaged children. We recognise the disadvantage that this can bring and we do everything we can to close this gap. Last year, at the start of F2, there was a 50% gap between those Pupil Premium children and not. By the end of the year, this gap had closed.
“We recognise that we do not work alone. We have forged close links with Sure Start and other settings and schools to improve outcomes for children. We support with early identification and working with parents is also a key priority. We have been part of a pilot study called Talk2Learn in which we have evaluated interventions and worked with an Speech and Language Therapist to improve our practice as a team. Our play-based learning environment for 3-5 year olds is communication friendly. This approach, alongside targeted interventions has meant children make accelerated progress for example 75% of children who made accelerated progress had received the Talk Boost intervention.”
David Baddiel, Host of the 2015 Shine a Light Awards, said: “Because of the important work that the Shine a Light 2015 winners and highly commended finalists have achieved, children and young people’s language and communication development, especially for those with SLCN, has been supported.
“Speech and language problems too often go under the radar, so everyone should not only be congratulated for their work but for bringing this important issue to the attention of others. I would like to say well done to all those shortlisted who have shown true grit and determination to better themselves and others. They are all a true inspiration – keep up the good work.”
Chris Hall, Director of Clinical Assessment at Pearson, says: “Congratulations to Robert Mellors Primary and Nursery School Foundation Unit for winning the Early Years Setting of the Year award at the 2015 Shine a Light Awards. Their innovative practices and partnerships have clearly had a significant impact on children’s development. Each year the applications get stronger and more inspiring. We have seen examples of children and young people with SLCN being supported by some truly inspiring individuals, groups and schools like Robert Mellors Primary and Nursery School.
“The Shine a Light Awards, now in their fourth year, continue to grow and we have been delighted to welcome an incredible judging panel who represent the very best of the education and SEN sector. To once again partner with the Communication Trust and celebrate these inspiring people and organisations is a real privilege.”
Anne Fox, Director of The Communication Trust, says: “Congratulations to the winners and highly commended finalists whose work will help inspire and motivate people right across the country. Robert Mellors Primary and Nursery School Foundation unit is a wonderful example of what can be achieved when children and young people with communication difficulties are offered the support they deserve. We’re delighted to have this partnership with Pearson, which allows Shine a Light to be a true celebration of the amazing work up and down the country and for helping the Trust to reach more children and young people and the professionals who work with them.
“The Shine a Light Awards are a key fixture for the speech and language sector as they reflect a range of best practice and innovative work taking place across the country. At a time when early years, health, education and SEN services are going through significant reforms, Shine a Light focuses attention on what can be achieved through expertise, sheer determination and never giving up on children and young people’s potential.”
Liz Bayram, Chief Executive of the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY) and category judge, said: “At PACEY, every day we see how early-years practitioners play a vital role in supporting children’s early communication.
Childminders, pre-schools and nurseries are all on the front line of speech and language provision, helping to identify problems early and ensuring children get the SEND support they need. Shine a Light highlights some of this excellent practice and congratulations to Robert Mellors Primary and Nursery School Foundation Unit for being a worthy winner.”
For further information about the Shine a Light winners and highly commended finalists, visit www.shinealightawards.co.uk and follow us on Twitter #SAL2015.