Natalie Bignell is the Head of Service and Development at Kids Start Day Nursery in Northenden, Manchester. Kids Start is one of the Bright Futures NW EY Stronger Practice Hub’s key partners. She has worked in early years for 17 years and is passionate about providing high quality care and education. She is lucky to lead an amazing, diverse and professional team who work together to provide outstanding early education for the children in their care.
Speech and Language is not only a prime area of the EYFS, but is also one of the main focus areas for our setting due to the high percentage of children that come to us with various forms of speech and language delay. This is not unique to Kids Start and has been a key focus of our local authority for a number of years. Manchester Council provides free WellComm training for all settings, with an aim to support children’s language development, ensure children reach a Good level Of Development by the end of their reception year and narrow gaps between children’s levels of attainment.
At Kids Start all staff have completed the Universal WellComm training, meaning every team member has an understanding of the programme. At least one member of staff in each room has completed the WellComm training, equipping them to complete children’s assessments.
WellComm is discussed with parents and carers when they come to view the nursery. During the child’s first settling session, we gain information from their parents or carers in regards to their current speech and language stage of development. This is a chance to discuss two-year assessments, parents/ carers concerns and discussions with professionals such as Health Visitors. In addition to this, we work closely with families who speak English as an additional language to gain a good understanding of their child’s speech and understanding in their first language too.
Once the child is settled into nursery, which is normally around 6 weeks after they join us, the Key Person will have an initial discussion with the family, before completing the WellComm assessment. If a child scores green, we will continue to support their language development and re-screen them every 6 months or if concerns are raised. If the child scores amber, we create a target support plan using the Big Book of Ideas. This support plan, along with activity videos is shared with parents and carers and reviewed every 6 weeks, until the child is re-screened. We will also have a discussion with the child’s parents/carers in regards to further support and if agreed will refer them to a PCI group. If the child scores red, we will complete and share a target support plan, share videos of activities and discuss a referral to speech and language.
Families with children who have English as an Additional Language are encouraged to complete the “bilingual information sheet” to support the next steps and referral to Speech and Language.
Parents, carers and staff post pictures and videos of activities being completed at home and nursery onto the child’s online journal. Working together with families helps us to gain a holistic understanding of the progress the child is making.
We have recognised many benefits of the WellComm process. Staff are trained to have a better understanding of children’s speech and understanding, which impacts their day-to-day practice. Children are supported through well-planned, fun activities to develop speech and understanding skills, closing gaps in attainment and allowing them to enjoy learning and reach their full potential. Parents and carers work closely with the nursery to support their child’s learning and development, building relationships, skills and understanding.