By John Galloway
“It would stick in my throat to charge for something as essential as helping a child learn a necessary a thing, like asking for a glass of water,” explains Lorna Lloyd. She's talking about the www.commtap.org (Targets and Activities Project) website she created with Neil Thompson. It's highly popular, and packed with high-quality resources, and they are determined to keep it available free of charge.
The pair, both practising speech and language therapists, started the site in 2006 as a way of providing materials for teachers and teaching assistants to use in the often protracted time between their visits. Since then they have had more than half a million downloads of the materials.
Originally set up to provide practical lesson outlines to develop communication skills for children on the P Scales, it has been developed to include references to the Early Years Foundation Stage levels, and up into the lower National Curriculum levels, across many school subjects.
Operating from a social enterprise space near the new media magnet that is London's Old Street, the team are also trying to develop a training arm to support the materials and to give help in specialist areas of speech language and communication needs, with any profit going back into maintaining the site. “We can’t charge for the content,” says Lorna Lloyd, very conscious that much of the material has been provided through the goodwill of fellow professionals freely uploading their own work. “It is based on a virtuous circle, like Wikipedia.”
With the extra emphasis that the National Year of Communication 2011 is bringing to this crucial area of children’s development, quality resources will be much in demand, especially, in these straitened times, free ones.
The Targets and Activities Project is run independently and is supported by Tower Hamlets PCT Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) Service and Tower Hamlets Education
Canary Wharf Group