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A blog from I CAN Speech & Language Therapist, Liz Wood

I’m a Speech and Language Therapist and have worked for I CAN for the last six years as part of the Communication Advisor team.  During that time I’ve delivered a range of training courses across the whole of the UK from Dundee in Scotland, to Truro in Cornwall and had the opportunity to meet many motivated and skilled practitioners working in early years, primary and secondary settings.

Every training day involves preparation and often starts with telephone conversations between practitioners and I CAN. It’s important that the training delivered meets expectations and has the outcomes for children and staff that the setting is looking for. Often a Head teacher thinks that they want one course but by the end of the conversation opt for something else.

Once a date is agreed I spend some time before the session preparing the activities. The I CAN courses are always interactive as participants seem to learn more by doing and talking rather than being talked at for a day!

I live in the South West so some venues I can drive to, but generally I travel by train the night before to ensure that I’m at the venue with plenty of time to set up. I’m never quite sure what to expect before I arrive and every training session is different. Nurseries and schools often have very limited space and sometimes this means that I’m training in an office or classroom. What I do know though is that the organiser will be welcoming, accommodating and interested in the content of the day. Once the PowerPoint is on the screen and the DVD (if needed) is tested I can begin to relax.

The start of the training can be tricky as I try to engage practitioners and ensure that I pitch the information at the correct level.  When I deliver whole school training like ‘Primary Talk’ I can have a group of up to 30 staff ranging from the Head Teacher, teachers, TAs and sometimes lunchtime supervisors. I tend to organise the tables into key stages and ensure a skill mix. Often staff have the opportunity to work with colleagues that they haven’t really spoken to before.

Keeping an eye on the time, I move through the various units of the course, responding to aspects that the group is particularly interested in and relating the information to their context. This varies in each setting depending on previous experience and training and the type of children they are working with. I always encourage participants to ask questions. This enables me to follow their interests and monitor their understanding of the materials.

Training sessions provide staff with an opportunity to reflect on their practice and plan for making changes to the way they work. Sometimes staff think that they will need to commit lots of time to making changes , but often it’s about small tweaks to practice and using strategies consistently across the school and during the whole day.

After the training I enjoy discussing with the organisers how they will ensure that the strategies/intervention covered in the training will be taken forward and how they are going to measure the impact. I always leave my contact details so that they can call/email me if they need any further support.

The most rewarding part of training is knowing that you are providing staff with evidence informed information that if implemented will have a positive impact on children’s communication skills and lead to improved attainment, quality of teaching,  behaviour and well being.

For further information about Primary Talk or training with I CAN please contact Joanna Clarke on 020 7843 2515, or visit our website