Double award nominations for successful initiative aiming to give children in Stoke-on-Trent the best start in life

stoke speaks out
Double award nominations for successful initiative aiming to give children in Stoke-on-Trent the best start in life
23 February 2018

A hugely successful initiative which is supporting children in Stoke-on-Trent to develop early language and communication skills has been recognised with two prestigious award nominations.

‘Stoke Speaks Out’ is a city-wide, multi-agency project which was founded in 2004 to reduce health inequality by tackling the high incidence of delays in children’s’ speech and language development in Stoke-on-Trent. It is led by Clinical Lead Speech/Language Therapist Janet Cooper and her team of speech and language therapists from Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Partnership NHS Trust (SSOTP) and is commissioned by Stoke-on-Trent City Council.

The Stoke Speaks Out team also takes a lead role in ‘school readiness’ - in the first year of the School Readiness programme, launched in 2016, 4,130 children were screened with only 35% being on track or ahead with language. 10 Months later following input from the team, this figure had risen to 54% children on track.

This success has been recognised with Janet and the Stoke Speaks Out project being nominated at the 2018 Advancing Healthcare Awards UK in the Contributions to Public Health category. The awards are held to recognise and reward projects and professionals that lead innovative healthcare practice and make a real difference to patients’ lives. 

On top of that nomination, the team have also been notified that they have been shortlisted for the SLCN (Speech, Language and Communication Needs) Innovation of the Year Award at the 2018 Shine a Light Awards, run by Pearson Clinical Assessment in partnership with The Communication Trust.

Neil Carr, Chief Executive of SSOTP, said: “The Stoke Speaks Out project is an initiative which the city should be very proud of as it has transformed the landscape for how children in Stoke-on-Trent develop early language and communication skills and is recognised nationally as an example of best practice.

“I congratulate the team on these much deserved award nominations which are testament to the hard work and dedication of the speech and language therapy team at SSOTP but also to the excellent partnership work between multiple agencies across the local health system in Stoke-on-Trent, including Stoke on Trent City Council, the CCGs and the Trust which together help to make Stoke Speaks Out the success it is.”

Councillor Janine Bridges, Cabinet Member for Education and Economy said: “I am delighted that Stoke Speaks Out has received these nominations. We are immensely proud of the success that the initiative has had since it launched in 2004 and particularly the impact the School Readiness Programme has had. These nominations are recognition of the good work Janet Cooper and her team continues to do. This project is making a positive difference to the lives of children in Stoke-on-Trent which is always our primary goal.”

Janet Cooper added: “The team are thrilled to be nominated for these two awards. We are so dedicated to achieving positive outcomes for children in the city and to receive this recognition gives us encouragement that we are working in the right direction and only increases our determination to continue working to help give children in Stoke-on-Trent the best start in life.”

Stoke Speaks Out works on the rule that the majority of brain growth takes place in the first three years of life so it focuses on early life and early education to ensure all children are supported as well as they can be.

The team has developed a screening tool for all children aged 2-5 years which is used by every nursery and school in the city to assist early identification and embed targeted interventions to support the children identified by the screen.

Stoke Speaks Out also supports local communities to develop positive early experiences ensuring children are ready to learn. This includes workshops for parents, fun days, ‘Little Library Van’ events and supporting playgroups, nurseries and schools to develop high quality education and care, as well as developing a network of parent ‘Communication Ambassadors’.

The team also supports the ‘Stoke Reads’ campaign, developed in partnership between Stoke-on-Trent City Council, The City Learning Trust and The National Literacy Trust, which brings together partners across the city to promote reading and boost literacy levels.

The winners of the 2018 Advancing Healthcare Awards will be announced at a special ceremony in London on Friday 20th April, while the 2018 Shine a Light Awards take place in London on Thursday 22nd March.To find out more about Stoke Speaks Out visit or follow @stokespeaksout on Facebook.