Conference 2018 – ‘time to talk’™ presents…

Our annual conference took place in March 2018 in Leamington. We were delighted to welcome practitioners from children’s centres, schools, pre-schools and nurseries to the day. Our theme was ‘chatter matters – across the generations’.

It wouldn’t be a ‘time to talk’™ event without an ice-breaker! We began with a game where delegates were given a set of nursery rhymes written in emojis! This was a great way to link traditional rhymes with a modern audience. Following on from the day, the emoji rhymes were shared on our facebook page and reached over 7000 people! You can download and print the images here if you would like to use them: Emoji Nursery Rhymes Quiz. We also received some more rhymes from people who had seen them on facebook, including a set written by seven-year-old Noah!


FML-Jean Gross 'Mother of Kate Gross, author of 'Late Fragments'-21.jpg
Our first speaker was Jean Gross CBE with her talk ‘Past and present – the state of the nation for communication’.

Jean chaired the recent review into children’s speech, language and communication needs called ‘Bercow: Ten Years On’ – the report was published within a few days of our conference. The ‘time to talk’™ strategy in Warwickshire was included in the report as an example of outstanding practice. See here for more details. Jean presented lots of fascinating facts about the impact of speech, language and communication difficulties as well as an update about national policy and developments in the light of the ‘Bercow: Ten Years On’ report.

Claire Noble
Our second speaker was Dr Claire Noble with her talk about ‘The Reading Together Project’

Claire is a Research Associate at the University of Liverpool and is part of the ‘Reading Together’ project team looking at how shared book reading can support language development in young children. Claire’s presentation detailed different techniques for shared book reading, including ‘dialogic reading’ and ‘pause reading’ and lots of the factors that might affect the results in children’s developments. There were lots of references to strategies that we promote through ‘time to talk’™ such as allowing the child to lead and giving lots of time for talking!

We heard various short talks throughout the day from partners from the following organisations:

  • Warwickshire Libraries Service (BookStart and more!)
  • The Communication Trust (resources available online)
  • Hill Close Gardens – ‘chatter matters in the garden’
  • Midwife Led Unit (Warwick Hospital)
  • University of Warwick (research in child development)
  • Warwickshire Health Visiting (new pathways)
  • School Readiness Pilot (e.g. Bedworth Bottle Swap)
  • REAL (Raising Early Achievement in Literacy)
  • Warwickshire County Council Early Years (an update)

During the afternoon, practitioners took an active part in two workshops:

  • ‘Vocabulary development’, led by Jean Gross CBE – about the importance of words in children’s lives, and how the words they need most will depend upon their context
  • ‘Thinking outside the toy-box’ led by the pre-school Speech and Language Therapy team – looking at ways to bring SLT targets to life with toys and games that everybody can access.

We also displayed our growing collection of wooden spoon puppets to celebrate ‘chatter matters week’.

We held a prize draw where practitioners won sets of the decorated wooden spoons to use in their settings! Congratulations to all our lucky winners and thank you to all our fabulous crafters!!!


We ended the day by launching our ‘chatter matters week’ campaign, encouraging everybody to keep in touch with rhymes from their own childhood, handing them on for the next generations. Thank you to everybody who came and took part and to everybody who helped to make it a great day behind the scenes and from the front. To everybody who was not able to join us in person this time, we look forward to seeing you next time.

Part of our ‘rhymes through time’ hand-me-down washing line!