St Giles School Wins National Accolade For Changing The Lives Of Children


Winners of the seventh annual Shine a Light Awards revealed by British comic actress and writer, Sally Phillips with special performance from Britain’s Got Talent winner, Lee Ridley (Lost Voice Guy)

St Giles School in Derby is dedicated to supporting children with complex speech, language and communication needs (SLCN). The school has won the SEN School of the Year Award for it’s work supporting pupils communication and independence skills at the UK-wide 2019 Shine a Light Awards, organised by learning company Pearson, in partnership with The Communication Trust. 

The Shine a Light Awards, which took place at Pearson’s headquarters in London, celebrate innovative work and excellent practice in supporting children and young people’s speech, language and communication development. They also recognise the hard work and determination of children and young people who have some form of long-term and persistent speech, language and communication needs (SLCN).

The awards were hosted by British comic actress and writer, Sally Phillips, whose eldest son, Olly, was born with Down’s Syndrome and was the inspiration for her acclaimed documentary A World Without Down’s Syndrome? 

With their motto to ‘inspire and achieve through creativity’, St Giles School assesses their pupils enabling them to provide bespoke support plans that prepares individuals for life in the local and wider community. Communication, independence and community are the key drivers for the school’s creative curriculum. The school works tirelessly to give all their pupils a voice despite their additional needs, providing them with the confidence and independence needed to excel. 

Together with using numerous interventions, the school appreciates the importance of home life and the need to ensure parents not only feel involved but have the skills and confidence themselves to support their child at home. The school’s fantastic family liaison team provides access to helpful resources and runs parent / carer workshops on topics such as Makaton and how to use visual support and high-tech devices.

The Shine a Light judges were not just impressed with the schools’ fantastic pupil plans and strategies but also their dedication to staff development and willingness to support local schools and settings, spreading their knowledge and expertise to help even more children and young people. For many years practitioners at St Giles have provided training to mainstream and special school staff with the school even opening its own doors to other practitioners during the school day so they can spend time in the classroom and observe lessons.

In total, 11 winners across 12 categories were recognised for their incredible contributions across the UK with one also receiving the Pearson Outstanding Achievement of the Year Award. In addition, ten finalists received Highly Commended accolades. 

Kim Smith, Assistant Headteacher and Communication Lead at St Giles Schoolsaid: “We are extremely proud to achieve this award, which demonstrates the school’s dedication to supporting children with complex speech, language and communication needs. As a school, communication is embedded into our creative curriculum and we tailor communication approaches to suit individual pupils, giving each child the motivation and a means to communicate.”

Clive Lawrence, Executive Headteacher at St Giles School said: “To be recognised as ‘SEN School of the Year’ is a tremendous achievement for St Giles. The Shine a Light Awards, organised by Pearson and The Communication Trust, are only given to those special schools who are the most innovative and deliver the very best SEND practice. Without a doubt, this is down to the hard work, collaboration and commitment of the whole school community including pupils, parents, staff and governors. I am so proud to be the Executive Headteacher of St Giles School and I’d like to thank everyone for their continued support, efforts and commitment, which ultimately benefits the pupils at our school.”

Sally Phillips, Host of the 2019 Shine a Light Awards, said: “St Giles School provides fantastic communication provision for their pupils. As a nation, it is vital that we ensure that all children have the opportunity to express themselves, particularly when this ability has a profound impact on our future life chances. 

“The amazing winners and highly commended finalists of the Shine a Light Awards prove what a difference we can make if we become informed, impassioned and engaged in the speech language and communication needs of those around us. St Giles School isn’t just changing the lives of those in their community but also across the UK. I have seen for myself the huge difference expert intervention and support provides for children, like my son, Olly, particularly at a time where we face a nationwide shortage of speech and language therapists.”

Sally was joined by Britain’s Got Talent Winner, Lee Ridley (known as Lost Voice Guy) who performed at the ceremony. Lee has cerebral palsy and uses AAC, via voice software on his iPad, to communicate and express himself.

Lee Ridley (known as Lost Voice Guy), who performed at the 2019 Shine a Light Awards, said: “I may not be able to speak but I most certainly have a voice. I know first-hand that with support, determination and a sense of humour you can achieve what others may think is impossible. 

“I was thrilled to perform at the 2019 Shine a Light Awards and to meet inspirational schools like St Giles School who like me don’t let their pupils disabilities or challenges rule their life and define them. We take for granted in this country our ability to talk and express ourselves but for many it’s not easy. With different strategies, technology and support available, children and young people can realise their dreams. It is heart-warming to know there are so many teams and individuals across the country that are dedicated to ensuring children and young people’s voices are heard. I am thrilled St Giles School was recognised at the awards.” 

Robert Reilly-Craig, Head of Clinical Assessment at Pearson, said: “Congratulations to St Giles School for their well-deserved award. We are proud that the Shine a Light Awards have become a key event in the speech, language and communication communities’ calendar. Pearson has supported these Awards for seven years to ensure that recognition and accolade is given to a sector that does not enjoy the same public recognition as other issues, such as literacy or numeracy. 

“It is critical that we understand the challenges faced by those who have speech, language and communication needs, as well as the solutions that can help them. These Awards enable us to showcase best practice and inspire others to improve their practice.”

Maxine Burns, Speech and Language Advisor at The Communication Trust, a coalition of over 50 organisations dedicated to supporting children and young people's speech, language and communication, said: “Well done to St Giles School for all their hard work and dedication to improving pupils speech, language and communication skills. We partner with Pearson annually on St Giles School Wins National Accolade For Changing The Lives Of Childrenthese awards to ensure there is a powerful platform available that can showcase best practice and innovative work in the field of speech, language and communication. 

“This fundamentally matters as the Bercow Ten Years On review on the state of provision for children’s SLCN in England showed that we still need to tackle poor understanding of SLCN and insufficient resourcing impacting children and young people’s educational outcomes.” 

One in 10 children and young people in the UK have a long-term speech, language and communication need (SLCN). This can impact on their academic progress, social skills and future job prospects however with the correct support, children and young people can flourish. 

For further information about the Shine a Light winners and highly-commended finalists, visit and follow us on Twitter #awards_SAL.


March 27, 2019

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