New programme inspires and supports development in young children
28 May 2019

A programme of training to support young children and their development has been positively received by pre-schools and primary schools on the Island.

Over 270 children have benefitted from ‘Isle Attend’ which is a 10 week programme designed to help develop the attention, communication and independence skills of children and increase the confidence of practitioners in supporting children who are demonstrating delays.

The training, inspired by Gina Davies’ ‘Attention Autism’ and ‘Attention Hillingdon’ by Hillingdon Borough Council, has been facilitated by the IW NHS Trust Speech and Language Therapy Service, in partnership with the IW Council Early Years SEN Support Team, and has been successfully rolled out across 16 pre-school settings and 8 Primary schools.

Children are monitored over an 8 week period on the development of 26 skills to help them become confident young people with a growing ability to communicate their own views. The programme consists of four stages which involve inspiring the child’s attention to enable them to focus with the use of noisy, visually engaging toys to building and sustaining their engagement through short, fun activities through to supporting the child to be able to shift their attention from observing to participating and putting all the skills together to help them focus, sustain, shift and transition.

Rebecca Burr, Professional Lead for Children's Speech and Language Therapy at the IW NHS Trust, said: “Isle Attend’ really inspires the child’s attention and gives them something worth communicating about. We are really pleased with the initial results which show on average over 50% of children increased from a score below 1 to a score above 2 for a number of the skills targeted and we will continue to review all of those who have been trained and participated to monitor standards and ensure the intervention is being delivered effectively. Our vision for the future is to see some form of ‘kite mark’ issued to pre-schools and schools to show families and other professionals they offer the intervention.”

Nearly all schools found the programme significantly affected the children and their ability to engage with routines, expectations and learning opportunities. Feedback from the schools that participated in the programme has been positive. Comments received include: “This has had an amazing impact on the children who have taken part as well as providing beneficial additional skills to the staff involved.”

“Personally I have thoroughly enjoyed the whole process and found it to be extremely positive to all involved; the team and the children.”

“The initial training that we attended, the modelling in the setting and the support with the data after, has all been invaluable.”

Anita Pitman, from the Isle of Wight Council’s Early Years SEN Advisory Team said: “Isle Attend was developed jointly between the Isle of Wight Council and the NHS. This has been a very successful initiative ensuring that pre-schools and schools know the importance of attention and listening skills in young children – they are instantly seeing the benefit for children and showing how it impacts positively on children’s development.”

The Speech and Language Team are continuing to support pre-schools and schools who have participated in the programme and have developed a Facebook page which is used to share ideas for activities and provide an ongoing link with those who have been part of the training. The programme is offered to Island schools where a need has been identified.

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