Shout out for communication

Wendy Lee (judge), Martha Currie (Mable Therapy), Gareth Gates (Awards host), Elliot Agro (Mable Therapy) and Anna Reeves (judge).

Celebrating best practice in speech, language and communication

The 2016/17 Shine a Light Awards, celebrating innovative work and excellent practice in supporting children and young people’s communication development, took place at a recent ceremony in London.

Run by Pearson, in partnership with The Communication Trust, the Awards recognise individuals, teams and settings that support communication, particularly for those with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN). The judges were hugely impressed by the standard of applications, which provide an amazing insight into the largely unsung work that is taking place across the country and highlight just what can be achieved when expertise, enthusiasm and dedication are given to those who struggle to communicate.

Best practice all round

Ingfield Manor School in Billinghurst was awarded the Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Award for their innovative initiative to devise an accredited City and Guilds “Effective AAC” qualification. Within two years, the speaking and listening levels of their AAC user pupils rose from 29 per cent to 100 per cent, with 100 per cent of students achieving their awards, matching formal qualifications of their peers.

Mable Therapy in Leeds was joint awarded the SLCN Innovation Award, together with ClearCut Communication (part of County Durham Young Offending Service (CDYOS).

Mable Therapy were recognised for creating a powerful evidence-based online platform that provides one-to-one speech and language therapy to children with SLCN in schools. Therapy can be arranged at times around pupil and teacher timetables, ensuring that teaching staff and parents can attend the sessions. The approach has resulted in pupils achieving their targets more quickly and effectively.

ClearCut Communication’s Thinking about Victims programme was praised for being a communication friendly resource used with both the victim of crime and the young person who has offended.

Shining stars

Gregor Gilmore, aged 23, has cerebral palsy and complex communication needs. The winner of the Young Person of the Year Award, Gregor uses a voice output communication aid that is mounted to his wheelchair to communicate. He accesses it by touch screen with the help of a key-guard.

Gregor now mentors other young people who have communication difficulties. He helps organise national meetings and events for the national charity 1Voice, volunteers one day a week at the Bridge College in Manchester assisting in the sessions for communication aid users, works with Leeds University to help educate student nurses about AAC, and volunteers at Manchester Metropolitan University on various AAC research projects.

Sheer dedication to providing fantastic speech and language support to children in Greater Manchester resulted in Caspian Jamie receiving the Pearson Outstanding Achievement Award.

In addition to co-founding award winning enterprise Twinkleboost, an organisation that helps more than 1,300 individuals and their parents with strategies to support their child’s communication development through fun, multi-sensory parent and child classes, Caspian has also created speech and language therapy programmes. He has co-authored a literature review, formed a YouTube channel to encourage parents to learn more about strategies to support language development and provides regular training to speech and language therapists and communication assistants, all whilst holding down a full-time job as a speech and language therapist.

SEN School of the Year

Ashmount School in Loughborough was awarded the SEN School of the Year Award.

The school has created a communication team that delivers efficient, coordinated support. In addition, 16 language groups have been created involving pupils who use VOCA, eye gaze and Makaton and an assessment toolkit has been developed as well as a switch/AAC assessment library for use by parents and partner schools.

The school has also become a speech and language therapy hub for the East Midlands.

A true champion

Ann Shellard received the Communication Champion Award for her sheer dedication and determination in ensuring that the speech, language and communication provision for early years children in Blackpool is the best it possibly could be.

Ann has worked with early years practitioners to increase their knowledge and understanding of speech, language and communication development. She has developed an introductory level speech, language and communication training programme and has devised a training pathway with different levels for practitioners to work through.

Ann has also worked on a programme to ensure every early years setting and children’s centre in Blackpool has access to their own communication champion.

Shine a Light 2017 Award winners

Pearson Outstanding Achievement Award
Caspian Jamie, Manchester

Early Years Setting of the Year Award
Bishop Alexander LEAD Academy, Newark-on-Trent

Primary School of the Year Award
Parkdale Primary School, Nottingham

Secondary School/College of the Year Award
Tor Bridge High, Plymouth

SEN School of the Year Award
Ashmount School, Loughborough

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Award
Ingfield Manor School, Billinghurst

SLCN Innovation Award
Mable Therapy, Leeds
ClearCut Communication (part of County Durham Youth Offending Service), Durham

Communication Champion Award
Ann Shellard, Blackpool

Young Person of the Year Award
Gregor Gilmour, Bury

Communication Commitment School of the Year Award
Easton CE Academy, Bristol

Further information

Chris Hall is Director of Clinical Assessment at Pearson, which publishes standardised assessments and interventions for professionals working with children and adults in health, education and psychology settings:

For information about the Awards, including best practice case studies, visit:

SEN Magazine
Author: SEN Magazine

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