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Our Approach

#351 Being an Early Years Communication Hub – Chestnut Nursery & Little Squirrels

Yvonne Hamilton, Nursery Manager, Chestnut Nursery Norwich Research Park

What did we do?

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 group is a support network where we focus on how we can help parents and practitioners understand the importance of verbal and non-verbal communication.

The meetings have been well attended and the feedback from professionals has been very positive, all attendees have emailed to let us know that they have learnt a lot and put things into practice from the meetings. It has been a sharing platform with professionals from health, Norfolk Early Years and the Norfolk library service.

Yvonne Hamilton, Nursery Manager, Chestnut Nursery Norwich Research Park

Summary of impact

We’ve created an accessible platform for all caring professionals including childminders. Many practitioners had access to free training with Elklan and Wellcomm which has had a positive impact on the early communication in the settings where staff gained their qualification. We have brought lots of different services together, which gives each service an opportunity to explore the needs of children within our area more deeply, and to be able to plan targeted services in collaboration. Due to COVID we have not been able to see the impact on children from other settings. However, the CPD that has been introduced as part of our network meetings, we are confident has upskilled the practitioners in attendance, which in turn will benefit the children in their settings.

Steps taken

We worked together with other professionals to get ideas on what they all felt was needed for the project to work. Everyone had opportunities to speak and work together in breakout rooms at our meetings online. We had guest speakers who inspired practitioners to make changes in their settings and practice.

What would we do differently

It was reassuring to know that we all shared the same concerns and had an open platform to talk these through and work together supporting each other. Having professionals from all sectors of children’s services was beneficial to all as we had information first- hand and were able to share this with our families. We feel due to the pandemic we were unable to have good quality face to face meetings where we feel there would have been more interaction. We also wanted to introduce more physical projects e.g., a human resource library.


We did require finance to support the project and thanks to the NOA funding, this enabled us to deliver a targeted approach to early communication with our families. We also developed communication friendly spaces with money from the funding pot. We also were able to source inspirational guest speakers.

See how others have implemented this Big Idea

Being a Communication Champion Hub School- Mile Cross Primary School

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 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.


Yvonne Hamilton, Nursery Manager

Chestnut Nursery, Norwich Research Park, Colney Lane

Norwich, Norfolk


Suzie Squirrell-Hughes, Managing Director

Little Squirrels Play Forest, Castle Mall 100 Lion & Castle Yard

Norwich, Norfolk