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Co-Training in Sheffield, Snake Pass and School Trips

Our wonderful volunteers from the key stage 4 dance and drama pathway in New Bridge Academy, (Lumenus) supported us to teach our one day Talking Mats training course recently. We had been invited to provide the Talking Mats Foundation training course, for a group of Speech & Language Therapists and their Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy colleagues in Sheffield. We talked to the Communication Advocate volunteers about them attending the training and providing some co-training. This was arranged as a school trip. We explored any concerns the advocates had about the day and learned that one of the things they were really looking forward to was driving over snake pass. Which we agreed has an apt title given its winding route.

The Lumenus students (Communication Advocates) have been working on talking mats and they are becoming very experienced at explaining the process and teaching others how to do a mat. We decided that they were ready to co-train, and we also wanted to showcase a movement piece they have created called ‘hear my voice’. The piece is about good listeners and bad listeners and during the performance there were quite a few tears from the audience as it really is a powerful message.

The Communication Advocates attended two courses in March. On the day, once their movement piece was complete the students worked with the therapists and taught them how to complete a talking mat. Feedback from the course participants was great-

“I particularly enjoyed the children’s dance/drama performance.”

“Meeting the students was an unexpected bonus.”

“Loved being trained by the students too.”

“Was great to have a go on the receiving end of a Talking Mat and see how it feels as a recipient and what’s important as a listener.”

“Presentation was super – never had an experience with co-delivery/training by students – they performed such a moving drama; it was such a brilliant experience of learning by interacting with the students.”

“Thank you for a really informative and inspiring day. Working with the young people was a very special bonus.”

“Young people coming to teach us was so valuable. Their performance was really poignant and beautifully explained

– good vs bad listeners and the impact this can have.”

“It was great to see the children and to have a chance to work with them.”

Following the training the students visited a park in Sheffield and luckily they had sunshine too, before returning to Oldham via snake pass of course.

I asked the Communication Advocates for their thoughts on the trip.

Their comments were as follows:

What we thought of performing

· Fabulous

· Inspiring – inspired me to be confident

· I thought it was really really, really good. I felt sad because the bad listeners wrapped people up, but then I felt happy

because the good listeners unwrapped them

· Very, very fabulous, I want work on showing even more facial expression

· It was very important for people to listen

· It was good

What we thought of training the staff

· I felt proud because I’d never done teaching before

· I think working with the people on the course was good for me

· I felt uncomfortable teaching adults

· It was good to help the staff

The trip

· It was tiring

· I fell asleep

· I felt really happy

· I think going to Sheffield on snake pass was fun

· I loved the park!

· I love snake pass

Class Teacher Sophia Pilgrim said of her key stage 4 group

‘I’m immensely proud of Lumenus, how confident they have become. They have learned how to teach talking mats in such a short space of time’

Alison Matthews

With thanks to OL1-Oldham for funding towards the project.


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