Where did you study/what did you study/what are your qualifications?
I studied originally at De Montford University in Leicester – that’s where I got my degree in speech and language therapy. I then did a post grad teaching and learning diploma and most recently did my Masters degree in Leeds Metropolitan University.
I worked as a speech and language therapist in the NHS for a long time; mainly in mainstream schools, but also in special schools, resource provision and with children in the early years; working with children with the whole range of speech, language and communication needs.
I was also a senior lecturer for speech and language therapy students for a while, with a particular interest in collaborative practice with education colleagues. Now, as professional director at the Trust, I work on projects and policy/public affairs work, ensuring everything we do has a strong evidence base and will work in practice for children and young people.
What are your current projects?
The Communication Trust has a range of projects on the go; we’re just starting on our next 5 year strategy, so it’s a really exciting time. One of the projects I am working on is our “What Works” database, supported by the DfE, which is a range of evidenced interventions for children with SLCN.
We developed it with the Better Communication Research team and we’re working this year to gather feedback, continue to expand the content and encourage practitioners to use it to support their work.
One of our biggest projects is the Talk of the Town project; it’s an integrated community based approach to supporting Speech, Language and Communication in all children, based in schools in areas of social deprivation.
Many of these children struggle to develop good language skills and we’ve been given a wonderful opportunity by the educational endowment fund to test out a model we piloted in Wythenshawe as part of the national year of communication. I am also working on a project called “Communication Leaders” funded by the Paul Hamlyn Trust supporting young people to lead the way in communication within their communities.
Who have you worked with?
I’ve been incredibly lucky to work with some brilliant people and organisations; we have built some really good partnerships with academics in the field of Speech, Language Communication and Education who have been so generous with their time and expertise to support our work.
I’ve worked with some really inspiring practitioners who do their work with passion and dedication far beyond the call of duty. Our team at The Communication Trust is completely wonderful, I really couldn’t ask for a more talented, inspiring and genuinely lovely group of people to work with.
What inspired you to get into this field?
I was incredibly shy as a child and though it doesn’t compare at all, felt some of the frustration of having a lot to say, without the confidence to speak out. I really value the importance of good communication – and love all the linguistic and psychological aspects of the job. It’s a massive problem solving exercise, working out where communication is breaking down and how you can fix it. There’s really nothing more rewarding …. plus, working with children is just really good fun!
If you weren’t a speech and language therapist, what would you be?
Maybe something creative, like an interior designer
What do you do away from work? Hobbies? Favourite bands/sports teams/holiday destinations?
Outside of work, I like to spend time with my family. I have three children, though the older two have gone off to university, so we are all just re-adjusting to that.
We have recently got a new member of the family – a black Labrador puppy – who is so very handsome, though equally challenging! We live in Yorkshire surrounded by lovely countryside, so do lots of walking to try and tire him out! I like renovating houses too, but need to find my next project. I love going on holidays, though they always seem to be over too quickly.
What’s your favourite book (and why)?
Probably Pride and Prejudice, though I like to read it in one go, so wait for Christmas or holidays when I have time off
What’s your favourite album and/or musician (and why)?
I really don’t have a favourite album or musician; I love all kinds of music, but probably listen to different things dependent on my mood - I like anything you can dance round the kitchen to, though currently I’m listening to Madeleine Peyroux a fair bit…
Whom do you most admire (and why)?
I guess I should pick someone famous who has changed the world, but I am drawn towards every day folk I’m afraid - It sounds horribly cheesy, but children with communication needs are the most inspiring group of individuals – living with communication difficulties in our society is really hard – they put everything in perspective.
Wendy Lee is Professional Director at The Communication Trust.
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