Case studies

Active listening thumbs up with Fidget

The Early Years Inclusion Team use 'Fidget the Rabbit' to introduce active listening to children and use visual aids to support story telling to engage children in learning and help identify any possible speech and language needs more quickly.


Child in the setting with additional needs in the area of speech and language.


A whole nursery approach for the speech and language development of all the children attending. Increased staff knowledge and awareness in speech and language development


"Having engaged in these sessions delivered by the SENCO Support Advisor I now feel that staff are becoming much more confident in this area and are already making changes in their individual learning spaces as a direct result of this training." Setting feedback

Full case study

Why was support required?

"During our most recent Ofsted report it was commented that in order to be outstanding then maybe staff needed to take full advantage of all the opportunities to improve speech and language development especially for the younger children"

What support was delivered and by whom?

Michelle Tideswell, SENCo Support Adviser delivered support to the Early Years setting in June and July 2018.

"After talking with the advisor we opted for the Thumbs up with Fidget programme as felt this best suited our cohort of children and could easily become embedded in our everyday practice."

The Thumbs up with Fidget programme:

Session one: The SENCo Support Advisor models to staff a small group session. An active listening friend ‘Fidget the Rabbit’ is introduced to the children within the group and Fidget shows the children how to sit. Active listening cards are shown to reinforce the active listening rules for good sitting, looking, thinking and listening. A story sack is read to the children within the group showing staff the benefits of supporting activities with visual props. A different member of staff joins each small group session to observe and a variety of activities are shown to staff after the sessions to give them ideas of resource to develop. The setting chose a story sack to borrow and for two weeks continue to plan smaller group sessions using Fidget the Rabbit and the active listening cards; supporting activities with visual props.

Session two: The SENCo Support Advisor returns and observes staff carrying out the small group sessions and provides further advice and guidance.

What impact has the support had?

  • the staff  have embedded the active listening cards and now use these at every opportunity within the setting
  • the small group sessions have enabled staff to identify any possible speech and language needs more quickly and put interventions into place
  • the use of real objects and more visual aids to support story telling has enabled everyone to be fully engaged in learning especially during story sessions

Following support what key actions have been taken?

  • group sessions are now delivered in a range of different ways
  • whilst we still have allocated time for larger group sessions we now have more sessions which are conducted in much smaller groups which allows for more focus on language and communication skills that are tailored to individual need
  • the setting is now beginning to make its own bag of props to support certain stories, songs and rhymes