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#742 Speech and Language Consultancy Support at St Clements Hill Primary Academy

What did we do?

In Spring 2021, St Clements Hill Primary Academy signed up to the Norwich Opportunity Areas speech and language ‘Consultancy Offer’ to help them improve their provision and practice in the early years foundation stage (EYFS).

After working with a consultant to audit their school and create an achievable action and improvement plan, St Clements Hill managed to improve their audit score by 25%.

From here, the school was offered the opportunity to sign up to the 2022 extension project, which allowed them to access a further 2 consultancy sessions, as well as up to £2000 of grant funding.

By the end of June 2022, following their final audit, St Clements Hill managed to increase their audit score by an additional 11.1%, bringing their total score increase to 36.1% and their overall score to 100%.

“The consultancy offer from the NOA was one of the most beneficial training sessions I have used, and I felt as a school team, we made so much progress even with the challenges of Covid-19”

Ella Quinn, SENDCo, St Clements Hill Primary Academy

Summary of impact

Pre-Consultancy Audit Score: 23/36 (63.8% green)
Post Consultancy Audit Score: 32/36 (88.9% green)
Increase: 9 points (25%)

Pre-Consultancy Extension Project Audit Score: 32/36 (88.9% green)
Post-Consultancy Extension Project Audit Score: 36/36 (100% green)
Increase: 4 points (11.1%)

Overall increase: 13 points (36.1% improvement)
Allowed schools to look more in detail at areas of concern/doing well

Steps taken

The original project:

At the start of this project, two practitioners from St Clements Hill Primary Academy were asked to complete a self-assessment audit of their school’s speech and language practice. This was done using the Communication Champions Audit Tool that was designed by consultant, Emma Ferris and which is now available through the Early Years Team at Norfolk County Council. This audit tool requires the user to rate the extent to which they meet 12 categorised statements using a red, mid red, amber, mid amber and green system. In St Clements Hills first audit, they scored 23/36 = 63.8%.

In meeting one, the consultant worked with St Clements Hill Primary Academy to review their pre-project audit findings and deep dive into their self-assessment. The consultant aimed to ensure that the results of this exercise were an accurate reflection of the school’s day-day practice, and any supporting evidence was reviewed. By the end of this first meeting, the school and the consultant had agreed on two areas of practice they’d like to improve – 1. Their targeted offer to parents/carers and 2. Their targeted offer to pupils.

In meetings two and three, the consultant and practitioners explored these two areas of focus. The consultant offered expertise and guidance to challenge and support improvements as necessary, and by the end of each meeting, St Clements Hill Primary Academy had created a minimum of two SMART targets to work on for the remainder of the year. During this time, whilst no further meetings were booked, the practitioners were able to seek further support and guidance from the consultant, via email.

In the summer term, after approximately 8-12 weeks had passed, the fourth and final meeting was held to reflect on the progress that had been made thus far and create an ‘Action and Improvement Plan’ for 2021-22. This contained:
1. The key findings from the pre-project audit
2. The progress made against the SMART targets set
3. The support and advice given from the consultant
4. The recommended next steps for 2021/22 to continue to drive these improvements forward.

St Clements Hill Primary Academy then worked with the consultant to re-audit their practice using the original matrix, and positively, as a result of their hard work and commitment to this project over the two terms, they managed to improve their audit score by 9 points (25%). This bought their overall audit score to 32/36 = 88.9%.

Extension Project:

In the Spring Term of the following year, the Consultancy Extension Project was set up to allow schools and settings who had been involved in the original project to access a further two consultancy sessions and up to £2000 of grant funding. The aim of this extension project was to support these schools and settings to make further improvements to their practice and so, foster sustainable long-term change.

St Clements Hill Primary Academy, having seen such a positive improvement during their involvement in the original project, applied to be part of the extension project in November 2021. Once they were deemed successful, their first meeting was held in Spring 22 to ascertain any further progress that had been made over the autumn term. Where necessary, new targets were set before the consultant and practitioners began to think about how best to utilise the grant funding offer.

By the end of session one, the grant funding form had been completed and this was sent to the Norwich Opportunity Area for approval and payment. Again, between meeting one and meeting two, the practitioners were able to access ad-hoc support and advice from the consultant, if they had any issues with achieving the targets discussed.

At the end of the summer term, St Clements Hill Primary Academy then attended their final meeting of the project to:
1. Review their continued progress since spring
2. Discuss the impact that the NOA funding had had.
3. Re-audit their practice using the original matrix
4. Set new targets for the next academic year, 2022-23.
5. Consider how they will share their action plan with their colleagues and senior leadership teams, and consider how they will analyse their whole school training needs moving forward.

From the final audit, it was evidenced that St Clements Hill had now gained a further 4 audit points (an 11% improvement), bringing their overall audit score to 36/36 = 100% green! Throughout the entirety of this project, this gives St Clements Hill an overall improvement rating of 36.1% – a fantastic achievement in 18 months and an achievement that will continue to show its benefits to young children with speech and language needs, for years to come.

What would we do differently

Both the original project and the extension project allowed for ‘sign up’ time in the autumn term, before the consultancy sessions started at the beginning of spring. This meant that all schools and settings only had 2 terms to achieve their targets which in some cases, was not long enough. As a result, it may have proven to be more beneficial to start this work at the beginning of the Autumn term or in the latter half of the term, where possible.

Secondly, when the original project started, schools and settings were still experiencing high levels of covid19 cases and as a result, the original plan to have the consultant visit the schools and settings in person to conduct each audit, alongside the practitioners, had to be changed. Whilst every effort was made to ensure that the practitioner’s self-assessment of their provision and practice was as accurate as possible, it would likely have been a more useful experience to immerse the consultant in each environment so that they could see the practice, provision and most importantly, improvements, for themselves.


Both strands of the consultancy project required participation from two members of staff. The Norwich Opportunity Area suggested that one of these staff members was a trained ‘Communication Champion’ and the other, was member of the senior leadership team. Therefore, for each meeting (4 in the original project and 2 in the extension project), these staff were required to take time out of their day-to-day role. Over the course of the two projects, this equated to between 8.5 and 10.5 hours, plus the time needed to work on their targets and complete their funding form.

In addition, the cost per school to participate in each project was:
– £1500 for the original project
– £350 for the extension project
– Up to £2000 of grant funding

Each of these payments were funded by the Norwich Opportunity Area.

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Emma Ferris, Clinical Director & Lead Speech and Language Therapist