I was excited to get day release from my NHS job this week to attend a conference in North Ayrshire called 'making language and communication everybody's business.' I'm excited because this is right up my street - my passion is to get other people excited about speech, language and communication skills in children.
It's not literally right up my street, but this worked to my advantage as arriving an hour early due to not knowing about local traffic jams ( there weren't any) meant I got a bracing walk on the beach before the conference. I didn't realise how much I miss the sea!
All in all, a great conference. The NHS team were really inspiring and have created a fantastic programme of early prevention programmes - albeit because their SLT budget was completely slashed - but it definitely fits in with avoiding the wait-until-they're-bad-enough-to-be-seen current model of SLT care. "Yes, I know your child has speech sound difficulties, but they're not really bad enough for us to see - come back when they are really struggling with literacy in a couple of years time." In our (Scottish) government's latest policy for SLTs, we should have "a desire to see a shift from intervening only when there is a crisis happens, to prevention and early intervention."*
It was good to see that some of the programmes are already well on their way in the department I am working in. But how do we move on from it being a year's funded project to being embedded in policy? Answers on a postcard!
My take-aways from this inspiring workshop are these:
a great P7 buddy project. In many schools the youngest primary kids are 'buddied' by the eldest ones. The SLT offer an hour's lesson to the P7s on how to communicate better with their buddies. These future parents were reporting how much easier it was to talk to their buddies after the session!
When we make language and communication everybody's business, we can be proactive rather than reactive. (I knew that already, but I took it away as being a message I needed to share more!)
I'm not the only weirdo who loves their job, but that there is a direct correlation between happiness levels of SLTs working in early prevention and SLTs firefighting the waiting lists on decreasing budgets using the older model of provision. It looks like this:
So thank you @weepeoplechat for a fabulous conference!
*Ready to Act: A transformational plan for children and young people, their parents, carers and families who require support from allied health professionals (AHPs)