Thursday, 25 October 2012

It’s a tough job... but someone has to do it!

Simone Gilson, from Pearson Assessment, wrote us this blog post after attending the Shine a Light Awards 2012 judging event

Applications for the Shine a Light Awards 2012 have now closed – big thanks to everyone who took the time to submit an application.

One judging panel hard at work
During the last three weeks we've been busy shortlisting the applications and last week we hosted the judges’ event, where the all important decisions were made. The quality of the applications meant it was a tough job!

This year we split our judges into three teams, each of whom was given the task of looking at a specific group of awards. Our expert panel for 2012 included some names you may recognise from last year: including Jack Marshall, winner of the Young Person of the Year Award 2012 and Janet Cooper, from Stoke Speaks Out, whose team not only won the Multi-Agency Team of the Year Award but also one of Pearson Assessment’s Outstanding Achievement Awards. In addition, we were delighted to welcome back Virginia Beardshaw, Chief Executive of I CAN, Chris Hall and Lesley Munro from Pearson Assessment, and introduce same new faces including the new Director of The Communication Trust, Anne Fox.

Supported by rounds of tea and biscuits, our judges met at the Pearson Headquarters on October 19th to choose the award winners and runners up. There were plenty of debates and opinions - luckily no fights - and in the end plenty of excitement over the final outcomes.

Jack Marshall, left, was last year's Young Person of the Year
 Lesley Munro described the process: "It was a privilege to be part of the judging panel and to learn about the excellent work being undertaken daily around speech, language and communication (SLC) in primary and secondary schools. There was evidence of whole school involvement and cross curricula embedding of SLC. Initiatives from Hello, the national year of communication, were also being taken up or expanded upon in many schools.

“Judging the Young Person of the Year award was a delight. The most difficult task was to select a winner from among these inspirational young people, who not only achieve their own goals, but also go beyond them to help others locally and nationally with communication challenges.”

We'll be keeping you in suspense a little longer as to who has won what as the winners won't be announced until our awards night on the 21st November!

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Put down your pens, and pick up language

Trust Professional Director Wendy Lee talks about the benefits of schools taking part in No Pens Day Wednesday:

Tomorrow (October 10th), more than 1,100 schools across the country will be taking part in No Pens Day Wednesday. In other words they will be banned from writing anything down for the whole of the school day.

The Communication Trust first used this event in September 2011 as part of the Hello campaign – the national year of communication – to raise awareness of the benefits of good communication. We challenged schools across the country to spend a whole day without writing, making best use of their speech and language skills, and they responded fantastically!

We heard of schools arranging debates, talking homework and making podcasts as part of their lessons – one school even had the “pen police” patrolling and watching out for pens and pencils in action. It was a brilliant event for Hello and got people really thinking about how children benefit from having good speaking and listening skills. Though it was a fun event, there was a serious side - it highlighted that a focus on speaking and listening can be really challenging – and how much children can learn by not writing things down.

This year, No Pens Day Wednesday could be seen as even more important for schools. Communication is now a key component of the Ofsted framework; in how teaching enables communication skills and in how pupils develop these skills and apply them across the curriculum.

For the first time, there is a spotlight on communication as well as on literacy and numeracy – a significant step forward for those campaigning for the importance of speech, language and communication skills.

We know from evidence it is fundamental that children have good speech, language and communication (SLC) skills, and that poor SLC development can impact on other areas such as literacy, behaviour and overall attainment. The more we can do to boost children’s SLC development the better and we are keen to support schools with ideas and resources to build on the good practice they already have in place.

No Pens Day Wednesday is a great and enjoyable way to put the focus on spoken language as a way to support and enhance learning. We’re excited that over 1,100 schools have signed up and we’d urge as many other schools as possible to do the same. If you can’t join in on October 10th, just pick another day that works for your school – once you’re registered you’ll have access to all the lesson plans, assemblies and staff meeting briefings prepared by our experts. You can use these resources whenever you like, as part of normal school days or host a No Pens Day Wednesday once a term if you like.

Last year, curriculum expert Mick Waters recorded a short film, explaining why he was supporting No Pens Day Wednesday. He said: “I think No Pens Day is a great idea because if you think about the amount of time you use a pen, is all this time writing in school really preparing children for grown-up life? We could make life so exciting without pens.”

Watch Mick’s full film here

If you’re interested in signing up for No Pens Day Wednesday visit our website here for more information.

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Friday, 5 October 2012

Learn how to crack good communication, by Amy Harker, Development Officer

Wow... it’s nearly Cracking Communication Conference time again! We are delighted that our first conference was such a success and we've received some really positive feedback from delegates, particularly about our focus on emphasising communication as a central skill. We enjoyed holding our spring event in London, but as autumn approaches, we look forward to a trip to King’s House Conference Centre in Manchester to further our journey in placing communication at the heart of schools’ policy and practice.

Keeping the focus within the current school agenda, we really feel our second conference will support schools to enable all children to achieve their potential through better communication skills and will prepare school leaders for the inclusion of communication in the new Ofsted framework.

We are really excited to have secured such prominent speakers. As well as the Trust’s own notable Professional Director, Wendy Lee, the star-studded line up includes Anne Duffy, an Ofsted representative, and Geoff Lindsay from the Better Communication Research Programme. Their speeches will link together policy, evidence and practice and provide a noteworthy morning agenda.

But the afternoon line-up is not to be forgotten! School leaders can choose from eight practical workshops and we're delighted to have a range of practical advice and tools on offer. The sessions will give delegates the chance to consider a range of practical solutions, based on good practice and clear evidence for their own communities. Also - do make sure that you attend our exhibition, on offer throughout the day, to network and see resources first hand (I hear there might be some freebies!).

We know there are currently lots of ‘cracking’ conferences out there – but this is definitely the one to attend! To find out more information (including our special early bird rate) please click here.

We look forward to seeing you in Manchester!