The Impact of Cuts To Support Services In Schools
Many schools are now having to lay off teaching assistants and individual needs assistants due to cuts in funding. This means:
- A reduction in one to one support in and out of the classroom
- A reduction in groups, e.g. social communication groups, vocabulary groups, language link groups, etc.
- Increased pressure on teachers to embed strategies in the classroom
- Risk of children with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) either switching off or developing behavioural problems as they cannot access the curriculum.
Five Tips For Embedding Speech and Language Therapy Strategies at School
It is not just schools that have had cuts to their budgets, most services have too, e.g. speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, educational psychology and lets not even mention CAMHS (Children and Adolescents Mental Health Services). It signals a shift in the way support can be given in schools and a different way of thinking about it. Given the current economic climate, it is unlikely that this will change in the near future, so we have to find ways around these restraints.
Last term, I met with a classroom teacher, the manager of a Speech, Language and Communication Facility and a very experienced Higher Level Teaching Assistant (HLTA) to put our heads together and think of whole class strategies to support children with SLCN in the classroom. This is what we came up with:
1. Give short, easy to follow instructions
When giving instructions, the teacher will:
- Keep instructions short
- Give the class time to process them
- Check them
When she checks the instructions, she will make a visual list of what the class have to do by typing it on Communicate in Print and projecting this on to the whiteboard so that the class can see it. This reduces preparation time, and it will help many children follow instructions, complete work and develop independent working skills.
2.Use visuals and games to increase vocabulary learning
When the teacher introduces new vocabulary, she will use a word web on the interactive white board so that pupils can discuss what words mean and how you say them as a class.
She will play at least one vocabulary game a week with the whole class to help learn new words. For example: What’s in the bag? Put a topic word in a bag, give three clues and the class guess what it is and then put it in a sentence.
4.Use visual planning tools to organise and plan written work
The teacher will use a visual planning tool on the white board to organise and plan written work with the class, and to think of vocabulary they can use in their written work. For example:
She will put a visual planning tool that is relevant to the written task on the interactive white board, so everyone can see it. The class can plan what they could say together and the teacher will write it on the planner on the board. The class can use this to write their written work. In a school where we did this, the teacher gave each child an individual visual so they could copy what was on the board onto their own plan.
5. Use colourful semantics as a planning tool
Try the resources at http://www.eldonprimary.co.uk/colourful-semantics/ to help children to plan sentences for written work. This will need more preparation than the other strategies, as they will have to make the pictures and sentence strips, but they can be used again as a class resource.
The facility uses Colourful Semantics, word webs, visual planners and task boards, and we want to bring these into the classroom. We are excited to see what the teacher and HLTA do and look forward to hearing the outcomes!