Aylesbury's PACE centre highly commended at Shine a Light Awards 2017

(From right to left) Laurel Allen Lead Speech and Language Therapist Pace, Gareth Gates and Ali Mountfield Pace
(From right to left) Laurel Allen Lead Speech and Language Therapist Pace, Gareth Gates and Ali Mountfield Pace

The Pace Centre in Aylesbury has been highly commended in the Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) category at an awards ceremony in London for its continued commitment to developing its pupils’ communication skills.

The 2017 Shine a Light Awards took place on 23rd March 2017 and were hosted by singer and theatre star Gareth Gates.

The 2017 Shine a Light Awards is a national awards scheme that celebrates innovative work and excellent practice in supporting children and young people’s communication development.

PACE helps children and young people with motor disorders, such as cerebral palsy. Pace have developed a robust ‘Total Communication’ approach to learning, with therapists, conductors, learning support assistants and teachers working together and sharing expertise daily in classrooms across the curriculum.

All children at Pace have an initial assessment, which includes a description and analysis of their skills to ensure their needs are identified at point of entry. Its youngest children (below 12 months) are monitored and parents have access to a speech and language therapist to discuss any concerns, with individual sessions provided to teach and practise general language stimulation techniques.

All of Pace’s children benefit from AAC (the term used to describe various methods that can be used to help people communicate from simple picture charts to more sophisticated computer technology) aids, whether it is their primary method of expression or used to enhance their speech and language comprehension. From nursery age upwards, each child’s AAC profile is used to identify target areas and evaluate their learning.

Assessment for 2015-16 demonstrated that 100% of Pace’s students made progress across the language and literacy curriculum, and many had made accelerated progress against national targets, especially in speaking and listening in Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2, respectively.

Laurel Allen, Clinical Lead SLT at The Pace Centre, said: “I am thrilled to accept this award in recognition of the dedicated staff at Pace and our expert speech and language therapy team. We remain humbled by the efforts of the children to make their voices heard.”

Gareth Gates, host of the 2016/17 Shine a Light Awards, said: “The dedication of The Pace Centre is outstanding. Being able to communicate with confidence is often taken for granted but for many it is an everyday struggle. I have found my stutter crippling at times but I have learnt ways to manage my difficulties with the support of others.

“It is heart-warming to know that children and young people are getting the support they need to develop and achieve goals that may not have been possible otherwise. The Pace Centre should be extremely proud of its award.”

Chris Hall, Director of Clinical Assessment at Pearson, said: “Congratulations to The Pace Centre for its achievement. Pace is a fine example of how embedding the training and professional development of its staff through all levels delivers better outcomes for the children they serve.

“This is the fifth year we have run the Awards and we remain blown away by the standard of applications. They give an amazing insight into the unsung work that is taking place across the country to improve the speech, language and communication skills of children and young people.”

Octavia Holland, Director of The Communication Trust, said: “Congratulations to The Pace Centre and everyone who triumphed at the Shine a Light Awards. They have shown what can be achieved when expertise, enthusiasm and dedication is given to children and young people who struggle to communicate. These Awards highlight the very best practice that is taking place in settings across the country. We would like to say a huge thank you to Pearson for their long-standing support.”