Skip to main content

Our Approach

#351 Being a Communication Champion Hub School- Mile Cross Primary School

Eileen Maceachern, SENCO, Mile Cross Primary School and North Norwich Communication Champions Hub Lead

What did we do?

The NOA Communication Champions project provided the opportunity, through training, for Early Years practitioners to develop their knowledge, skills and understanding in speech, language, and communication.

The Communication Hubs aim to build on this foundation, by creating professional networks where practitioners can meet to engage in ongoing CPD, share good practice and problem-solve. Through partnership working between schools, settings, agencies, and services, we aim to ensure that all staff have the skills and confidence to develop communication-friendly practice in their own settings and to support children to achieve the good outcomes in speech, language, and communication that they need to achieve in school, and which are fundamental to their life chances.

Developing the Hub has been a huge area of professional development for me personally. It’s kept me engaged in ongoing academic study to ensure I’m in a position of knowledge, it’s developed my confidence in my role as a leader in school and it’s deepened my understanding of how systems and processes work at an organizational level.

Being a Hub Lead has, at times, been a daunting task; balancing expectations and workload, overcoming logistical difficulties and technical issues. It’s additional work on top of an already demanding role in school, but it continues to be immensely rewarding and I look forward to our future role further embedding the legacy of the Opportunity Area investment.

Eileen Maceachern, SENCO, Milecross Primary School and North Norwich Communication Champions Hub Lead

Summary of impact

Within our own school, leading a Communication Hub has provided further impetus in our development of language rich environments, communication-friendly spaces and partnership working with parents and families. We’ve looked more closely at our own provision and how it aligns with evidence-based practice, learning from research and professional discussion.

Feedback about the network meetings has been positive. We’ve hosted some truly inspirational speakers this year and we know anecdotally that network members have been implementing strategies in school or signposting families because of what they’ve learned. It’s been commented that we’re joining the dots between services and settings, and our aim is certainly to become the recognized centre for collaboration and joint working around speech, language, and communication in the Early Years and beyond.

Steps taken

Our Hub began as a collaboration between two schools; we started by creating our own Hub identity; the North Norwich Communication Hub, and we commissioned a logo to represent the partnership.

Next, we looked to develop our own schools as exemplars of good practice. Our Communication Champion Leaders cascaded training to all class staff, then carried out classroom audits to identify areas for improvement. We involved parents by holding Communication Cafes for families and ensured that communication was included in our school development plans.

Our knowledge about the needs of our catchment children and experience of evidence-based practice helped us to shape a programme of training to offer to schools and settings and we planned the agendas of meetings to incorporate topics that our network members indicated were a priority.

What would we do differently

Advance planning is so important. When we first started organising the network meetings, we were planning content from one meeting to the next. This last year, we planned and shared our meeting dates in advance and thought more about the CPD element of each meeting. For next year, we’ll send out clear plans to all our network members at the start of the year and distribute these more widely too, so that people can prioritise and plan their diaries.

Working out how to set up a distribution list for network members has been a little thing that has made a huge difference! We have over seventy people on our contact list now and send out regular updates for training opportunities and local events that might be of interest. Some people can’t attend meetings due to work or family commitments, but this keeps them informed. Recording our meetings on Teams has helped with this too.


We’ve been very fortunate in being able to access such a wide range of expertise from local specialists who have agreed to come to our network meetings to share their knowledge. Our Hub budget has enabled us to fund external training opportunities, but our meetings themselves have been made possible by professional generosity.

We want to grow our network and promote our Hub wherever possible; we’ve developed a website and Twitter feed; we invite anyone with an interest in Early Years or in SLC along to our meetings.

See how others have implemented this Big Idea

Being an Early Years Communication Hub - Chestnut Nursery & Little Squirrels

We wanted to develop a hub of Early Years professionals to support children's early language development. The focus was to target the 0-2 year group.

The Communication Hub - North Norwich

Eileen Maceachern, SENCO at Mile Cross Primary School and North Norwich Communication Champions Hub Lead talks about the development of the North Norwich Communication Hub.


Eileen Maceachern, SENCO and Communication Champion

Mile Cross Primary School, Brasier Road

Norwich, Norfolk