Talking communication with the Children’s Centres

Talking communication with the Children’s Centres

More than 15,000 under-fives are registered at Derby’s 10 children centres accessing a range of support and activities with their parents and carers.

Some of those children also access targeted services – such as programmes to support children with speech and language delay. These include TALK Derby’s Let’s Talk programme and groups for children identified as less likely to achieve a good level of development. This may be because they are struggling to develop their language skills, have additional disadvantages or special educational needs, or are already involved in other support programmes.

Role play areas for chatting

Children’s Centres and TALK Derby

The children’s centres became involved with TALK Derby at the pilot project stage and so had access to support and training before the project officially launched.

They have made full use of this and now:

  • All 60 members of staff in the team have accessed some level of training 
  • All have completed Communications Counts training
  • Four have been trained to Level Four and have led the teams to achieve Communication Friendly Status for all 10 children’s centres
  • 30 are trained to support children’s speech and language
  • There are 16 Let’s Talk tutors
  • Seven have been trained to deliver Let’s Talk with under 5s training
  • There are 10 communications champions – one per centre
  • The team has made full use of the Balanced System, which helps settings to identify and close gaps in their speech and language practice.
Children's centre cosy area

Changes to communication

The support and training from TALK Derby has led to a lot of changes in how the centres approach speech, language and communication with the children, families and carers they support.

Lisa Sandercock is the school readiness lead for Derby’s children’s centres and responsible for co-ordinating TALK Derby across them all. She says: “We have made so many changes and we can see how things have improved. The biggest thing for me is that all 10 centres achieved Communications Friendly status. Fortunately, we were able to collate and submit the evidence for this before Covid-19 struck.”

Lisa also says their planning for sessions has changed: “For example when we are looking at key words and vocabulary, the team members will focus on two object words, two action words and one descriptive word in a session, this approach is consistent across the sessions and centres.”

Lisa adds: “All our speech and language displays have been changed, are the same across all the centres and TALK Derby branded.  Speech and language screening is now available across the whole city for two-year-olds. We are also running a pilot scheme in one locality to combine NHS development checks with speech, language and communication checks into one appointment.”   

Conversation prompts

Impact of Covid-19

With almost all the services and support offered by children’s centres being face-to-face, they have had to rapidly develop new ways of working to continue to support children and families. At the start of lockdown, the priority was contacting the most vulnerable families and creating and providing activity pack for them combining learning with fun activities.

Lisa says: “The team has been extremely busy talking to families and carers over the phone and creating activity packs and support packages. We are currently finalising videos and information packs that include everything parents and carers need to know to support their child at this time. The packs focus on using everyday household objects and routines to support children’s learning.

“We have also been using social media to share videos – our first one had over 2,000 views. I am very proud of the team. They have produced some amazing, creative pieces of work.”

TALK Derby going forward

TALK Derby is now woven into the day-to-day practice of children’s centres. Lisa says: “From the beginning to end, it’s part of what we do. It’s in the interview process, team inductions include Communication Counts training and our performance management includes an element of speech, language and communication.

Children's centre play area

“The support and training we have received through TALK Derby have helped us make big improvements to the communication support we can offer children and their families. And this can only be a good thing for these children as they make the move to school and beyond.”

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