Posted by: ayrshirehealth | August 26, 2015

It’s all about SPIN by Alison Gooding

A week in the life of SPIN

“Fulfilling, challenging, exciting, stimulating, at times frustrating, occasionally terrifying, but most often incredibly rewarding” – That’s how we would describe life in the SPIN team.SPIN logo

Our small but unique team is funded by North Ayrshire Council to build capacity in parents, early educators and communities as well as meeting individual children’s needs in their early years setting. There are four of us on the team, one full time and two part time Speech and Language Therapists and a part time Speech and Language Therapy Assistant.

When we were asked to begin this project back in April 2014, we jumped at the opportunity to do something that little bit different – and so began our journey to where we are now.

We are relishing the opportunity to work closely with Parents, Carers and Early Educators, supporting them to meet children’s communication needs and create communication friendly environments. Working together as a team, supporting one another, encouraging one another, challenging one another – all sealed together with chat, laughter and a few games of squash (Well, for some of the team!).

So, what is a week like in the life of SPIN? No week is the same, in fact no day is the same.


Today is the last day of our It Takes Two to Talk Hanen parent programme.  Six families are attending the course in our local Asda superstore. HananParents are learning strategies to support their child’s language and communication development, while having the opportunity to share their deepest worries and concerns with other anxious parents. The parents are enthusiastic about the programme.

One parent says “I now wait more and follow my child’s lead more. He uses more gestures and words”. Another says “It was so nice to meet other parents with similar issues and concerns”. Following the programme, we meet as a team and make plans and carry out evaluations.


The Hanen “Learning Language and Loving it”programme provides early childhood educators with practical strategies for helping all children in the classroom build language and social skills, no matter what their learning and communication styles are. Early Years16 Early Years staff are attending this intensive course each week.

This week is video week, where we go out and record staff practising the strategies learned with small groups of children in their Early Years Establishment.

At each place, very enthusiastic, skilled but nervous staff greet us. An hour later, we leave them encouraged and further equipped for the essential role they play with these children.


Some of these staff are also “Communication Champions”.  This week we have a network meeting to discuss how our champions can take good practice around promoting speech, language and communication back to their establishments. From creating communication boards to display top tips for parents, running ICAN workshops for parents, embedding small group time into their day and organising in-service training for their colleagues – our Communication Champions are working hard!


Buddy training has captured the imagination of the schools. We visit a local school and spend an hour with P6 pupils providing them with ideas and skills to interact with children in the nursery. Parent EveningEach child is given a buddy in the nursery and following the training they get the opportunity to spend time with their buddy, remembering to be face to face and to observe, wait and listen.

It is amazing to watch these children, our parents of the future, embrace the strategies given and interact so well with their little buddies. One buddy says he will now be able to talk to his little sister much better because of what he learned.

Another rewarding session!

Parents Evening is up next – we have joined with many local schools at their parents evenings, setting up a stall with resources and spending time chatting with parents, answering questions and signposting them on as needed. Appropriate new referrals are encouraged, while other parents are given advice and reassurance.


Today is a day in the office – writing training packages for delivering to local childminders, and a presentation for the Effective Practitioner national event in Edinburgh. We meet as a team, planning events, synchronising our diaries and ironing out any issues.

Language and communication is everyone’s business.

SPIN winnersWe see it as a core role of our SPIN team to support and build capacity and capability in everyone who may be involved in a child’s life. This is why we do what we do – because this is so important. We are constantly questioning what we do, reflecting on our practice and ensuring we deliver the best we can to make the greatest impact.

We love what we do – and to see a difference in the lives of these children and their families makes every second of it totally worthwhile.

Our SPIN team (Lynne Johnston, Lorna Smith, Shona Fletcher and Alison Gooding)

This week’s blog was by Alison Gooding, Speech and Language Therapist, SPIN Team, NHS Ayrshire & Arran



  1. My husband and I did the Hanen program 18yr ago when our daughter was only 3yo. She had almost no language. It made a huge difference for all of us and helped develop her language skills enormously. The strategy they used then was OWLing. . Observe, Wait , and Listen. It looks from your blog that it has developed, but a brilliant program. Glad to see it still in use.

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