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Our Background

In 2017, Norwich was identified as an Opportunity Area. Priority One was to address speech, language and communication needs in the early years in order to positively impact on the health and wellbeing, educational progress and employability of children and young people. 

Early Years practitioners were trained to become "Communication Champions", receiving comprehensive training through 'The Communication Trust' to develop their own practice, and to become leaders in their own settings, delivering training to all staff to create a universal approach.


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The Norwich Opportunity Area has now come to an end, but much of its work has been captured on the Link Big sharing learning site. 

Our Hubs

Five Communication Hubs were set up to continue and develop the 'Communication Champion' project.

North Norwich Communication Hub (Mile Cross Primary School, Catton Grove Primary School and (formerly) Lionwood Infant and Nursery School Communication Hub Partnership)

Hub Leads: Eileen Maceachern, Catherine Bryan 


Lakenham Primary School Communication Hub 

Hub Leads: Jess Bell and Tracey Hawthorne 


Peapod Preschool Communication Hub (A Hub for Parent Toddler and Community Groups)

Hub Leads: Fran O’Neill, Sarah Riley and Sarah Armstrong Contact:  

0-2 Communication Hub Partnership: Little Squirrels Play Forest and Chestnut Nursery

Hub Leads: Suzie Squirrel Hughes and Yvonne Hamilton


As a result of a Twinning Project, a further Hub has been established outside Norwich

The Breckland Hub (Necton Primary School)

Hub Leads: Lynsey Eaglen and Leanne Cryan  

Contact:  or

The Hubs are led by Stuart Allen, Head Teacher at Mile Cross Primary School.

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Setting up a Communication Hub
If you are interested in finding out more about how the North Norwich Communication Hub was set up, this webinar for the Opportunity Area's "Sharing Big Ideas" week will tell you more. 
Follow the link to the webinar here or read our presentation. 


Our Schools

Mile Cross Primary School

At Mile Cross Primary School, we believe that good communication skills are the foundation for learning. Many of our children start school with poor speech and language skills so developing these is a real priority. Three of our teachers trained as Communication Champions in the original NOA training and one of our teaching assistants is taking part in the current programme. We have cascaded the training throughout the school and staff have used the online training package more recently to reinforce their knowledge and skills. All our Early Years teachers are ELKLAN trained and some of our support staff. We use Wellcomm to measure language skills in the Early Years and have been running Talk Boost as an intervention for the last couple of years. 


Following the Communication Champions Conference in June 2019, we have used the principles of Elizabeth Jarman’s Communication-Friendly Spaces approach to develop our indoor and outdoor areas; creating places and experiences to arouse excitement and stimulate talk and for children to sit quietly and reflect. 


Working in partnership with parents is fundamental to our school. Before lockdown, we introduced ‘Communication Cafes’ for families in all key stages; sharing ideas to develop understanding of speech, language and communication and strategies to use in the home to support and promote talk. 

Last year we handed out ‘Talk and Play’ packs produced by Norfolk County Council to all our Early Years children and families were invited to participate in the ‘Talk and Play’ challenge and post their home activities on Tapestry. This year we are supporting the Norfolk '50 Things to do before you're 5'. 

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At Catton Grove Primary School are passionate about developing children’s speech language and communication skills. We are committed to supporting early speech and language development to give children the skills they need to communicate inside and outside school, now and in the future. 

We have trained Communication Champions from the original NOA project who work alongside our dedicated in school speech and language team to identify and support children who have speech, language and communication needs.  They have developed their own practice, and have become leaders across our Foundation Stage, delivering training and support to staff to create a universal approach to identifying and supporting all children with their language and communication.   

The staff team have continued to further upskill themselves by completing the level three Elkan training and apply and embed the strategies they have learnt in daily practice. 

Catton Grove is part of the DFE Early Years Professional Development Programme which is a key element of the national government initiative to improve children’s outcomes in early language, literacy and mathematics. It aims to provide high-quality, evidence-based professional development support for Early Years practitioners. 

It specifically targets the Early Years Practitioners who work with the most disadvantaged children between the ages of 2-4 years old, with an emphasis to improving school readiness.  This programme has trained a member of staff to become a Tutor Champion and they will cascade the Elkan Language and Literacy 2-4s course to early years practitioners in spring 2021.

We use Wellcomm to measure language skills across the Foundation Stage and provide intervention accordingly.  

In spring 2021 our Reception team will be embrace the government Covid-19 Catch up programme and will be providing additional language support for children through the Nuffield language Intervention (NELI) programme. This is a 20 week intervention programme for children to support their language development.  

Catton Grove Primary School
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