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Happy talk: speech therapists receive national award

Two NHS speech and language therapists, who work closely with schools in York, scooped a top award at a prestigious ceremony in London.

The therapists who work for the Trust picked up the award on behalf of Early Talk for York (ETFY) at a national award ceremony.

Speech-language specialists Hannah Thomas and Eve Ibbotson play an integral role in the ETFY approach.  The therapists are part of a team that works in collaboration with early years professionals under the City of York Council.

The ‘Children & Young People Now’ Awards have become the gold standard for everyone working with children, young people, and families.  The ETFY approach was awarded for their work in the Learning Award category by improving speech, language, and communication outcomes for children in York. 

Their work with children across the city was recognised at the ceremony at The Hurlingham Club, London, which was presented by actress and former CBeebies TV star, Cerrie Burnall.  Now in its 18th year, the awards ceremony is a source of pride and recognition for all those working to improve the lives of children and families.  The judges particularly looked for work that has helped children with special educational needs and disabilities or disadvantaged groups, such as looked-after children.

The initiative focuses on early identification and swift resolution of speech, communication, and language challenges in primary schools and early years settings.  The national awards received 500 entries representing numerous organisations in the sector - ranging from local authorities and public sector agencies to children's charities, membership bodies, and private providers.

Speaking of the achievement, Eve explained: “We were pleasantly surprised as there were so many amazing nominees for the award.  This has been a city-wide approach, so we were delighted to pick up an award that recognised the collaborative work in York.”  Hannah added: “We are very proud of everyone involved in ETFY and excited to win, it was a wonderful celebration.”

The ETFY approach has brought together the council, health care commissioners, schools, and early years settings to focus on improving children’s speech, language, and communication outcomes.  The programme received nominations for multiple 'Children and Young People Now' awards, which acknowledge exceptional and innovative practices supporting the well-being of children, young people, and families.

Rob Newton, City of York Council’s Social Mobility Project Manager, and lead for the Early Talk for York programme, said: “Partnership working is at the heart of ETFY’s success, and I’m delighted the judges recognised the work of colleagues across the city.  Early communication and language development is particularly important in helping to tackle inequalities and by reducing the attainment gap between disadvantaged children in York and their peers, we can start to change the long-term outcomes for children across the city.”

For the approach, Hannah and Eve provided comprehensive speech, language, and communication training for early years professionals, and continue to provide tailored support to build practitioners’ knowledge, skills, and confidence, to empower them to respond to identified needs.

The programme has supported around 4,000 children and the school readiness gap has fallen to 2.5%, which judge Carey Oppenheim, advisor for The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood, described as “very impressive”.

02 January 2024

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