Christmas Message from Virginia Beardshaw, I CAN CEO
2012 has been busy for all charities and particularly those working with children and young people with speech, language and communication needs. The policy landscape continues to change – with the introduction of a revised Early Years Foundation Stage which has communication and language at its heart; proposals for a new Primary Curriculum and the publication of the draft SEN clauses of next year’s Children and Families Bill. I CAN is working hard with our colleagues across the sector to inform and shape these policies to ensure the best deal for children with SLCN.
At I CAN, what matters most is the progress made by children and young people who struggle with their communication. Just this month, I had the pleasure of hearing pupils from the Meath School Choir perform with musicians from the London Chamber Orchestra. I also attended the All Party Parliamentary Group for Children where two pupils from I CAN’s Dawn House school presented their views to parliamentarians. You can read about their experiences here. Both of our schools also have new web sites: www.meathschool.org.uk and www.dawnhouseschool.org.uk
There are many other highlights of 2012 including:
- Visits from Michael Gove MP who came to Meath in July and from the new Children and Families Minister, Edward Timpson MP who celebrated the first birthday of the Early Language Development Programme in November.
- Recognition of the achievements of I CAN’s two specialist schools – Dawn House School was runner up in the category of Secondary School of the Year in The Communication Trust’s Shine a Light awards and Meath School received an Outstanding judgement from Ofsted in its recent Care Inspection.
- Another accolade for a Secondary Talk school from the Shine a Light Awards
- Reaching 400 primary schools with our Talk Boost 10-week intervention programme
- Thousands of nurseries and schools taking part in the Communication Triathlon, Treasure Humf and Chatterbox Challenge
- 32 primary schools successfully completing the pilots of our ground-breaking programme with The Communication Trust and Every Child a Chance Trust – A Chance to Talk
- Establishing a new licensed tutor network of over 200 experts able to train and support schools and early years settings in their area
- Welcoming 300 new volunteer Communication Ambassadors who are trained to spread the word about children’s communication in 29 areas of social deprivation
- Raising much-needed funds for our Million Lost Voices Appeal with the support of our appeal board and celebrities Barry Norman, Colin Firth and Dame Judi Dench
- Partnerships with organisations including ARK, Achievement for All, Impetus Trust, Early Intervention Foundation and Nuffield, as well as Openreach
- The launch of The Communication Trust’s new five year strategy and Hello campaign evaluation report, which features joint projects delivered with I CAN
- Enabling early years practitioners and parents to support the language development of children under 5 through our Early Talk 0-5 programme and new activity packs
Next year I CAN celebrates its 125th anniversary. We want to mark this important milestone with as many of our supporters and colleagues as possible, to look back at what’s been achieved and to focus on the future. Significant progress has been made with your help, but there is still much to do to ensure that children and young people who struggle with communication receive the help they need to have a happy childhood, make progress at school and thrive as adults.