Introducing Talk About Talk Secondary!

A blog by Maxine Burns, I CAN’s Lead Advisor for Youth Programmes.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been involved in supporting young people with communication difficulties to run Talk about Talk workshops for adults, seeing firsthand how young people themselves help delegates learn more about communication difficulties and how to support them. This programme has made a statistically significant difference to the communication skills of young people in the Raising Your Game project, and we at I CAN are all really keen that its impact continues. We’ve been especially keen to take what we have learnt in the original project and apply it to the context of a secondary school.

So, over the last few weeks and months, quite a lot of my time (and dream activity!) as I CAN’s Lead Advisor for Youth Programmes has been spent working with colleagues to write funding proposals for the development of Talk about Talk Secondary.

We are acutely aware as the children’s communication charity that young people with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) can struggle with both the learning and socialisation aspects of school. This in turn can also leave them struggling to find opportunities to find employment and contribute to the economy as well as potentially damaging their own feelings of self-worth. But it’s not just young people with identified SLCN who struggle to find and keep work. Employers tell us that the ‘employability’ skills of team working, time management, resilience, and flexibility, problem-solving are often missing in school leavers. And guess what…communication skills underpin nearly all of these ‘soft’ skills!

Imagine mine and our team’s delight when last week, in the middle of an event to celebrate I CAN’s CEOs recent CBE award, we heard the news that we had funding from Paul Hamlyn Foundation for a two year pilot of Talk about Talk Secondary! Hurrah!! Had we not have been in such eminent company, I may have been tempted to cartwheel!

But now, the real hard work starts. As well as developing the new materials, we need to recruit 18 secondary schools across England by the end of May. These schools will need to work hard too. There’s a tight programme schedule to accommodate in an already packed school curriculum AND a contribution to the evaluation of the programme to commit to. But we’re sure there are schools who want to do this for their students as much as we do…bring it on!

For more information about how you might join the pilot contact, visit our website or email tats@ican.org.uk.