'time to talk' Countywide Conference 2014 - Guest Blog Post

This week’s guest blog post is from Deborah Powers, Speech and Language Therapist from 'time to talk'.

‘time to talk’ were recipients of The Shine a Light Award 2013/14 for Children’s Workforce. We caught up with them to see what other activities the team had undertaken since winning this prestigious award.

'time to talk’ Countywide Conference

Following the success of previous years, we held a conference for this year and secured a top venue and some great speakers. The conference took place in November 2014 and we welcomed 70 Early Years and Children’s Centres practitioners who are involved in implementing the ‘time to talk’ strategy across Warwickshire.

Our keynote speaker, Elizabeth Jarman, presented the Communication Friendly Spaces™ Approach. Elizabeth provided an overview of the approach which will help practitioners to develop their learning environment and make sure it’s really supporting children’s speaking and listening skills, physical development and emotional well-being. Theory was illustrated with lots of relevant imagery, case studies and examples of impact. 


Key strands included:

  • Planning for transitions
  • Maximising the use of space
  • Storage and resource management
  • The impact of noise
  • Informed use of colour
  • The effects of light.

Elizabeth is a much respected and inspirational speaker and gave us all plenty to think about. Her session was followed up in the afternoon with a workshop led by Alison, Hayley and Rosie, the team from Kingsbury and Polesworth Children’s Centre, winners of the 2014 Elizabeth Jarman Award. The team set up a room at the venue in two different styles. On one side was a ‘traditional’ setting; on the other side was a ‘communication-friendly’ setting.

Our practitioners were asked to spend some time in each half of the room, and there was then chance to reflect on the effect of the environment on their play in each area. Feedback showed that this was a great way to showcase how natural resources, open-ended play, multi-sensory experiences and creative use of materials can really enhance a child’s emotional, physical and communication experience in a setting. Thank you to Alison, Hayley and Rosie for all their hard work in creating and transporting the workshop.

Elizabeth Jarman, presented

‘time to talk’ Speech and Language Therapist Melanie Packer led a workshop on the use of video to support practitioners in maximising the opportunities for children’s language learning based on the VERVE (Keena Cummins) philosophy. Attendees were shown how the process has a positive impact on children’s communication development through the power of video reflection. Melanie showed some videos of practitioners at different stages of VERVE and their insights into their use of strategies.

Melanie Packer led a workshop

We heard a series of short presentations on ‘what works for us’. Carly White from Abbey Fields Nursery provided a presentation about their language enrichment extension.

Carleen Parker from Badger Valley Children’s Centre spoke about the process of preparing their portfolio for the ‘time to talk’ enhanced certificate, in recognition of their implementation of the ‘time to talk’ strategy.

Carleen Parker from Badger Valley Children’s Centre

Abbey Fields Nursery Language Enrichment Room

Sarah Walker from the Health Visiting team spoke about the two year integrated review and our very own Louise Perry talked about her experiences as a new parent in her talk ‘chatter matters… but sometimes I just need reminding!’

Sarah Walker from the Health Visiting team

Louise Perry talked about her experiences as a new parent

We are hugely grateful to all who contributed with these short talks. It was great to hear about all the great practice out there. We held a workshop led by Sally Tonge, a storyteller from Shropshire. Sally shared some of her storytelling ideas and had everybody joining in!

Thank you to Sally for a fabulous and engaging session, perfect for any age. We had displays from exhibitors relevant to ‘time to talk’…and we launched our new book and poster, ‘the abc of talking with me’.

Sally Tonge, a storyteller from Shropshire

Displays from exhibitors

‘the abc of talking with me’

There were opportunities for networking, receiving updates and news about ‘time to talk’ and a celebration of Champions’ fabulous contributions to support children’s speech, language and communication. We ended with a talk from our strategic lead SLT, Alex Williams, about the ‘time to talk’ blanket.

And a thank you to Champions for all their hard work.

We look forward to welcoming our Speech and Language Champions again next year! In the meantime, we will keep them busy with termly cluster meetings, ‘chatter matters™ week’ more training for new practitioners, tracking children’s progress, developing communication friendly environments and continuation of all that we do to support children’s speech, language and communication skills across Warwickshire.

Thank you to Deborah Powers and the team at ‘time to talk’ for sharing news of their exciting conference.