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Hello, what's going on in 2011?

This article was originally published in Talk, Listen, Take Part - a special supplement produced by the TES to a brief agreed with The Communication Trust. The supplement was paid for by The Communication Champion and BT.

See the full supplement as a digital edition.


Hello is the national year of communication. It is run by The Communication Trust, an alliance of 40 voluntary organisations, with expertise in speech, language and communication, in partnership with Communication Champion Jean Gross.

Hello is backed by the Department for Education and Department of Health and sponsored by BT and Pearson Assessment.

Anita Kerwin-Nye, director of The Communication Trust, says: "As a former teacher, I know that communication difficulties do not have the same profile in schools as dyslexia or autism. It is more hidden and, in the worst cases, invisible.

"Ultimately, this is about recognising children's needs and, while quality first teaching is fundamental, many children will also need specialist support and interventions. With educational reforms taking place, it is vital these children do not become invisible again, which is why we are calling on all teachers to take part in Hello."

Larry Stone, president of group public and government affairs at BT, says: "Communication is key to our business. But it needs to be everyone's business. We depend on people being able to talk, listen and connect with others."


Schools will find plenty of inspiration on the Hello website: fact files, classroom resources and stories.

You can read about Aspull Primary, Wigan, where pupils applied to be part of a communication team and undertake activities such as reading regularly to younger children.

In Southwark, schools ran drama-based language intervention groups, while Coventry primary schools took part in a "Zippy Lips" day, when children had to communicate without speech and discuss what that felt like.

Hello offers free resources such as Misunderstood, an easy-to-read guide to speech, language and communication needs; Don't Get me Wrong, which explains the issues further; What's Typical Talk posters; and Universally Speaking "ages and stages" booklets for primary and secondary.

To support parents with family talking activities, you can use Listen Up - a "fortune teller" game. A resource to help school improvement planning for language and communication will soon be on the site, with signposting to screening tools, interventions and whole-class schemes.


What is it?

The Communication Champion and The Communication Trust, as part of Hello, are asking schools to choose one day when they focus on speaking and listening in every lesson for every child.

When is it?

Wednesday 28 September is the target day, but schools can choose another date if that suits them better.

Don't schools do speaking and listening anyway?

Yes, but it is often mixed in with reading and writing. No Pens Day Wednesday is to be a day where children put down their pens and use their ears and their voices.

Why is it needed?

Language is central to teaching and learning, but in poorer areas more than 50 per cent of children are starting school with delayed communication skills. Their speech may be unclear, vocabulary is smaller, sentences are shorter and they are able to understand only simple instructions. Poor language skills go hand in hand with poor literacy. A child's vocabulary at age five is a very strong indicator of the qualifications they will achieve at KS4 and beyond so the more schools can do to raise speech and language levels, the better a child's chance of success in later life.

How can our school get involved?

See http:bit.lyNoPens to find more information about the scheme. Fill in the online form to receive a free activity pack with lesson plans, curriculum ideas, resources and information for parents.


Being able to say what you want to say and understand what other people are saying is the most important skill we need in life. Yet many people take communication for granted. In the UK today, one million children (or two to three in every classroom) have speech, language and communication needs. Each child's difficulty will be different - for some, it will have a huge impact; for others less so - but left untreated their difficulties will severely limit their potential. Above are some of the ways a child with speech, language and communication needs will struggle.

Some children have language difficulties as their main or only difficulty - this is known as a specific language impairment or SLI. Others have difficulties with other conditions such as autism, Down's syndrome or physical difficulties.

Some children will be able to use their voice to communicate, while some may use other ways such as electronic communication aids, gestures and signs: alternative and augmentative communication (AAC).

The Communication Trust represents 40 organisations with expertise across the full range of speech, language and communication needs. Organisations range from the British Stammering Association to Afasic (which supports children and young people with SLI) and Communication Matters - a UK-wide organisation focused on AAC.


1. I can't get words out

Difficulties with talking include speech that is unclear, a stammer or difficulty talking in sentences.

2. I don't understand words

Including difficulties understanding specific meanings of words or long or complicated sentences.

3. I don't know how to have a conversation

Perhaps through not listening well, interrupting too much or struggling to join in with group conversations.

4. I don't have enough words

Some children have speech that is immature for their age and have a limited vocabulary.

5. I have multiple barriers

Often because these difficulties are linked with other conditions such as autism, Down's syndrome or physical difficulties.


Hello resources

The Communication Trust

The Speech, Language and Communication Framework online tool

Free BT resources to support communication and collaboration skills

Information on children's communication

The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists

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