Being an I CAN Licensed Tutor
Jo Flanagan and Bibiana Wigley (Speech and Language Therapists from Clarity Tec Ltd in Derby) speak to us about being I CAN Licensed Tutors and how it has contributed to their professional development
Becoming a Licensee
We have known about I CAN for the majority of our careers as speech and language therapists (SLTs) as we both worked in the NHS for many years before working in independent practice. We are trained in Early Talk Boost (ETB), Talk Boost KS1 (TBKS1) and Talk Boost KS2 (TBKS2) and have been Licensed Tutors since 2013 when we trained in TBKS1. So far, we have delivered training to 13 schools and 15 early years settings.
Although we already had a wide range of products and services/CPD experiences that we were delivering to schools and early years settings (some we had developed ourselves using evidence based theory and practice, in addition to tools developed by others), we felt we were missing the ability to offer interventions that catered to the age range of our target audience. The Talk Boosts have enabled us to widen the scope of the services that we offer.
Being SLTs made it really easy to become Licencees. We are familiar with the theory; the vast majority of the activities in all of the interventions are similar to the ones we used in our years of therapy with individual children and therapy groups. Our experience helps us to support participants to develop new skills, to deal with questions from participants about speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) and we can assist with identifying children (who may have less typical profiles of development) who need more specialised support from our local NHS SLT service.
It can take a long time to establish yourself as an independent provider. We prefer to work in the locality we know well and so have used many of the people who were in our networks from our work in the NHS. That said, our roles have changed significantly since our clinical posts and we now focus solely on workforce development. We have therefore needed to think of new ways to attract customers. The solutions that have worked have been many and varied, such as; paying for business coaching to support us to develop our sales and marketing skills, developing marketing plans for courses (e.g. creating an Eventbrite site), MailChimp newsletters, social media (Twitter and Facebook), using local authority schools circulars and word of mouth referrals. Getting started as a Licensee was fairly easy because we had already addressed how we would sell and market our services. I think this would need to be what a new Licencee would need to think about if they had not used a ‘businesslike’ approach in their work previously. Challenges for us include a few logistics about schools and payments/when to invoice them -we are always learning!
How being a Licensee contributes to our own professional development
We have become very familiar with the Evaluation Reports that have measured the effectiveness of the interventions and are able to share this with our audiences. We love the fact that we can share interventions that are on the ‘What Works’ database too. I CAN are also contacting the schools that we have worked with to measure the effectiveness of the Talk Boosts and we have begun to revisit schools that we have trained to assist them with their own evaluations, which in turn helps us continually reflect on our delivery of the courses.
The support we receive from the I CAN team has been very efficient and the materials always come on time when we order them. We like the regular CPD updates that we receive about latest theory or initiatives, for example, the summary by Mary Hartshorne about the changes in terminology from Specific Language Impairment (SLI) to Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) – very beneficial for our own CPD. We feel we are very clear about our responsibilities as licensees from the training and the terms and conditions that we have signed up to. If we have any queries, we know that we can always email or call the I CAN Licensee team and we get a timely response.
We would definitely recommend becoming an I CAN Licensee to others, you develop your own clinical skills and also some business acumen. It’s not difficult and very enjoyable.
Delivering training to settings and schools
The Talk Boost Licensee courses are informative and we felt well equipped to get started as soon as we had finished the training with an I CAN Advisor. We found it useful to understand how all of the intervention materials work together, which helps us to understand our participants’ experiences when they receive our training. There is plenty of the latest theory and research in the programmes, which we can then share with trainees; this always carries a powerful message about how important speech, language and communication (SLC) skills are for children’s learning, social, emotional and behavioural development. Participants also like the idea that we are offering evidence based interventions that have already been evaluated. This reassures them that they have a quality resource that will ‘do what it says on the tin’.
Our participants are usually very engaged and enthusiastic – we can easily get into sideways discussions about SLCN, which we see as a positive because most of our participants know very little about it. They are usually shocked by the prevalence figures around SLCN too.
The fact that the intervention is outlined week by week, session by session is a huge positive, because there is no additional planning. It’s always a huge relief and I think makes it much more likely that the interventions are delivered to the letter, which in turn creates optimum impact for the children.
We have re-visited two schools so far who are very positive now that they have run the intervention through once. They have each reflected on how they delivered it and made adaptions to ensure it runs more smoothly next time. They use the red, amber, green (RAG) ratings from the online Tracker, which gives a clear indication of change in the children. Head teachers have also been very positive about the outcomes from the two schools that we have spoken to, finding the data really easy to interpret. One school tracked changes to the children’s writing (as well as oral language skills) and found a big change following the intervention.