Blackpool is leading the way with helping children express themselves – and that’s official.
Ann Shellard, a Blackpool early years language consultant, has been awarded the Communication Champion 2017 Award at the Shine A Light Awards, for her dedication and determination in ensuring the speech, language and communication provision for youngsters in the resort is the best it can be.
The 2017 Shine A Light Awards is a national scheme celebrating innovative work and excellent practice in supporting children and young people’s communication development. The event was hosted by singer and theatre star Gareth Gates, in London.
Ann was recognised for working tirelessly to improve the skills and expertise of the resort’s early-years workforce. Her job involves working with practitioners to increase their knowledge and understanding of speech language and communication development, working closely with speech therapists to ensure they have the skills and knowledge for early child development, and developing training programmes for professionals.
She has worked on a programme to get every early-years setting and children’s centre in Blackpool to have a communication champion.
Ann’s commitment has resulted in 82 per cent of Blackpool Ofsted reports highlighting speech, language and communication as an overall strength.
There has also been a steady increase in children achieving at least the expected level in listening and attention, understanding and speaking in the town.
Ann, who lives in St Annes, said: “I’m very happy to receive this award, It recognises all the hard work that’s been done, but it’s not just me. I’m part of a dedicated team who continue to have high aspirations for all our children with speech, language and communication needs.
“We aim to narrow the gap, particularly for those who come to us with significant delayed speech and language and it’s lovely to know our work has been acknowledged nationally. Helping children with communication at an early age is so important.”
Coun Kath Benson, Blackpool Council cabinet member for schools and learning, said: “We put a great deal of emphasis on developing communication and interpersonal skills among children in Blackpool, which helps them as they grow older. Ann is an excellent example of the work we are doing and we hope to continue do this, to give Blackpool children the best start in life.”
Gareth Gates said: “Ann’s dedication is outstanding. Being able to communicate with confidence is often taken for granted, but for many it is an everyday struggle. I have found my stutter crippling at times, but I have learnt ways to manage my difficulties with the support of others.
“It’s heart-warming to know children and young people across England are getting the support they need.”