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Make Chatter Matter pioneers I CAN celebrate The Communication Trust success



Children’s communication charity I CAN, has today warmly welcomed the announcement that The Communication Trust; a 38 strong consortium of third sector, private and voluntary organisations, will be managing and delivering a nation wide campaign focusing on the importance of children’s communication skills.

Virginia Beardshaw, I CAN Chief Executive, says; “I CAN, and indeed the third sector as a whole, has great cause for celebration today. As a founding member of The Communication Trust, I CAN are delighted and proud that the Trust is taking forward a national campaign to promote speech, language and communication development. This will help the Government’s newly appointed Communication Champion, Jean Gross, to achieve long overdue system change by supporting commissioners in health and children’s services.

“As the children’s communication charity, we are only too aware of how invisible speech and language needs can be and the struggle it is for parents and practitioners to identify a problem and know where to go for help. That is why we launched our landmark Make Chatter Matter campaign in 2006 to ensure that communication skills were embedded at the heart of children’s policy making, giving the issue the visibility and recognition it needs.”

Beardshaw continues, “We called for a National Year and a Communication Champion in our Bercow submission two years ago. Today’s announcement is a real coup for I CAN, and the speech and laugange sector, who have passionately campaigned to get a better deal for children and families. Since I CAN’s Make Chatter Matter, we have seen national policy focus dramatically on speech and language through the Bercow Review, Better Communication Action Plan, Rose Review, Child Health Strategy and the independent Cambridge Review..

“Through the National Year we have an unprecedented opportunity to reach parents and the children’s workforce. We will not waste it. Everyone needs to know that learning to talk is as important as learning to walk.

I CAN, with The Communication Trust and its partners, will continue to create a movement around speech and language that touches every man, woman and child. We will soon reach a time when children’s communication needs are recognised and understood by everyone and anyone, so that no child is ever left out or left behind because of a hidden problem that was overlooked.”

Beardshaw concludes, “We are delighted that theTalking Point website, run by I CAN and supported by a range of voluntary organisations, will become the information portal on children’s communication development during the National Year.

“During the National Year, I CAN wants to ensure that children and families with severe and complex SLCN and speech and language impairment (SLI) are prioritised. We know only too well the anguish that thousands of parents have faced in their struggle to access services and be listened to. The National Year and the work of the Champion has to make a difference on the ground for these families. Achieving this will be the real measure of the success of the National Year.”


For further information or request of an interview, please call I CAN’s Press Office on 020 7843 2543 or email

Notes to Editors:

About I CAN

  • I CAN is the children’s communication charity.
  • We are here to ensure that no child is left out or left behind because of a difficulty speaking or understanding.
  • One in ten children have more severe difficulties and need long term support.
  • In some socially deprived parts of the UK, upwards of 50% of children are starting school with poor language skills.
  • I CAN’s mission is to make sure that everyone in contact with children knows how important communication is, what a communication difficulty looks like and what they can do to help. We do this through:
  • Increasing public awareness of the problems children face.
  • Giving expert advice to parents and families about what to look out for and what to do
  • Providing assessments for children so that their families know what support will meet their needs
  • Giving teachers and people working with children the skills to help children who struggle.
  • Campaigning to ensure children and families get a better deal.

I CAN’s Talk programmes

Primary Talk programme

• I CAN’s Primary Talk programme is an evidence informed structured learning programme devised to develop the skills and practice of school practitioners on a journey- from working with a child who is a confident and capable communicator through to working with a child with severe and complex SLCN. It has four elements;

 Workforce development;
 Support and mentoring;
 Resources and information;
 Quality assurance and accreditation.

• Primary Talk has been developed by I CAN in partnership with Somerset Total Communication and Somerset County Council. The programme has been supported by The Communication Trust, Esmee Fairburn Foundation and The Rayne Foundation.

For more information go to

Early Talk programme

  • Early Talk is I CAN’s learning and development programme for early years practitioners. It gives nursery school staff the knowledge and skills to maximize all children’s language development.

It is now running in 59 local authorities.

  • Early Talk supports the development of universal services and helps settings and local authorities develop targeted and specialist specialist offers. It does this through training packages, mentoring and service development.

  • With The Communication Trust and the Every Child a Chance Trust, I CAN is developing A Chance to Talk to help children held back by poor language skills to catch up at primary school.
  • I CAN is currently developing a Secondary Talk to help young people with poor language skills realise their potential and get on track to enter the world of work.

At the very heart of I CAN are our special schools which give expert care and education to children with problems so severe their needs cannot be met elsewhere

For more information on I CAN log onto or