‘This training is in essence all about Quality First teaching’, ‘The teachers are buzzing with ideas following the training sessions’, ‘Planning sheets are being re-written in the light of the received’, ‘Great to have simple but extremely effective strategies which we can use straight away and which really work’.
These are just some of the comments I heard when I visited the schools involved in the ‘Building a Communication Friendly School’ funded by the London Schools Excellence Fund.
The Communication Friendly School accreditation has been devised by Elklan and comprises a five step cascade training model.
Step 1 is a level 3 accredited programme delivered to two Teaching Assistants (TA’s) in a primary school and two per Dept. in a secondary school.
Step 2 involves two teachers in each Dept. and each PS completing a Level 4 accredited course to embed the learning and deliver step 3.
Step 3 is a 3 x 1 hour training course (written by Elklan) and cascaded to ALL staff, teaching and non-teaching who come into contact with the pupils including administrative staff and lunchtime supervisors.
Step 4 involves successful completion of an audit which measures impact and ensures consistency across the school. Participating schools will audit each other towards the end of the project.
Step 5 external accreditation by apt awards (formerly OCNSW) is awarded.
To date all TAs have completed the training and portfolios are being verified. The teachers are 2/3rds of the way through and are appreciating the new strategies they have to teach vocabulary and to differentiate questioning to meet the needs of all pupils including those with the severest SEN. The next session includes information on empowering ‘pupil voice’ and enabling students to ‘speak out’ and voice their needs, all essential skills required for schools to implement the new SEN code of practice but that’s another blog post!
Light touch and simple, yes, but schools are already seeing change in staff practice and confidence and ALL the children using strategies to enhance their communication development which is at the basis of all teaching and learning. As one teacher commented, ‘This truly is inclusion for all’.