This is a hotseat discussion
Working Together - Speech and Language Therapy and Mainstream Teachers
Specialist Speech and Language Therapist
Mainstream Primary Schools
I graduated as a Speech and Language Therapist in 2004 and have since then been working in the London borough of Hackney in London. I work in Mainstream Primary Schools with children with a range of Speech, Language and Communication Needs. The age range I work with is from 3 to 11 year olds.
Useful Links to External Sites
The Targets and Activities project (TAP) website
ELKLAN Language builders and Secondary Language Builders
ICAN Primary Talk
The Communication Cook book
|Before I give you an outline of the focus of my work in schools I would
like to de-mystify the role of the Speech and Language Therapist (SLT).
When SLTs talk about:
➢ ‘Speech’ - they mean articulation of speech sounds. Children typically develop the ability to say certain speech sounds in a specific developmental order. Children can have a delay in their speech sound development in isolation of other difficulties, a speech sound disorder in isolation, or speech sound difficulties in the context of broader language and communication difficulties or learning difficulties.
➢ ‘Language’ - they mean the ability to understand what is being said and the ability to use language to communicate. This may be a specific difficulty with language (learning language in a delayed or disordered way) in isolation, or language difficulties in the context of a broader communication or learning difficulty. Language here can mean both spoken language and signs.
➢ ‘Communication’ – they mean all the other things we do when we communicate. For example social skills/non-verbal communication i.e. turn taking in conversation, looking at the person you are communicating with, active listening skills.
There are essentially 3 parts to the focus of my work in schools
➢ Universal work (National Curriculum equivalent of Wave 1) – embedding good communication practise throughout the schools I work in (for example through whole school training, coffee mornings for parents).
➢ Targeted work – (National Curriculum equivalent of Wave 2) – supporting the school in setting up and embedding specific input for targetted groups of children (for example through modelling language groups, social skills groups, groups around transition from Year 6 to Year 7).
➢ Specialist work – (National Curriculum equivalent of Wave 3) supporting schools to work with children who need a more intensive and specialist programmme of work to access the curriculum or communicate to the best of their ability (for example children with Speech sound difficulties, children on the Autistic Spectrum, children with Learning Difficulties)
The government recently commissioned John Bercow to Review Speech, Language and Communication services in England and Wales. This report stressed how crucial communication development is for children and the importance of services working together to ensure a joined up approach. The report concluded that:
‘Although there are some skilled professionals and very good facilities (with pockets of excellence Hackney being one of them), the overall position is highly unsatisfactory.
Access to information and services is often poor, services themselves are very mixed, continuity across the age range is lacking, effective joint working between the health and education services is rare and there is something of a postcode lottery across the country.’
Current understanding of good practice that improves childrens’ language and communication skills includes:
➢ Clear roles – involving all relevant individuals
➢ Joint working and good communication between services
➢ Contextualised learning which ensures relevance to each child
➢ Systematic teaching to overcome difficulties in language processing
➢ Equity of provision
However emerging evidence is that if pupils’ language levels are to improve it is not sufficient to expose them to a language rich environment but that much more curriculum based but tailored intervention is required.
Questions to consider.
➢ How can we ensure that Language and Communication needs become central to the wider curriculum?
➢ One of the Inclusion Development Plan’s current topics of focus is Speech, Language and Communication development.
Has your school started to incorporate this into their development?
plan? If so has it made a difference to classroom practice and how?
is it impacting on curriculum delivery? If not what do you think your school needs to do?
➢ The evidence suggests that making sufficient time for language activities will promote pupils’ language output.
➢ Have you any examples of schools prioritising language activities?
➢ Have you any examples of communication friendly classrooms?
➢ Can you provide examples of activities that promote language development that can permeate good teaching for all children?
Useful links to support your thinking:
The Language Support model for Teachers by Elspeth McCartney provides a comprehensive range of ideas for teachers who are working with Speech and Language Therapists to support children in mainstream with SLCN