Speech and Language Therapy Services For Schools
I work in schools in East Sussex, Kent and London. I have seven years experience of working in schools as a speech and language therapist. I have worked as an Individual Needs Assistant in a primary school, and I taught English as a foreign language for over ten years.
Children I Can Help
- Paying attention, staying on task, listening and working independently
- Understanding classroom instructions
- Understanding stories and curriculum texts, e.g. factual information
- Planning what to say and how to say it
- Learning new words
- Remembering new information
- Thinking of what to say in written work and how to organise language into the parts of the task, such as what to say in the opening, the build up, the end.
- Speaking clearly, including stammering
- Social interaction
- Low self esteem and anxiety
All children make progress, although it can be hard to say how long the process will take as this depends on many factors, e.g. age, diagnosis, motivation, and support. Progress does not always mean that difficulties resolve as this depends on the many factors outlined above. Speech and language therapy strategies can be very powerful and provide excellent support. For example, offering a choice of answers to a question to enable the child to be able to answer it and feel success – “Was his dog called Rover or Bounder?” Some children have made incredible progress, starting to speak when no one thought they would, or stopping stammering.
I can offer the following services to special and mainstream primary and secondary schools:
- Assessment and Observation
- Speech and Language Therapy, either one-to-one or in groups
- Speech, Language & Communication Support for a child in the wider school environment
- Support and Training for TAs and INAs
- Speech and Language Therapy Support Groups
- Elklan Training Courses
- Training staff to achieve Communication Champion Status
For children presenting signs of difficulty with speech, language or communication, I can come to the school setting to provide:
- Assessment – formal and informal.
- Observation in the classroom, in other relevant lessons and in the playground.
- Discussion with the class teacher, support staff, SENCO, parent/carer and child about next steps
- Goals to be set with school staff, carers and where possible the child, to be used in IEPs and curriculum targets and throughout the whole school, where requested.
- Strategies to be implemented in the classroom and at home (strategies can be used with everyone so the child does not feel singled out, e.g. a ten second thinking rule so that no one can answer a question straight away).
- Advice on measuring outcomes.
- Modelling working on goals and using strategies in the classroom, e.g. modelling strategies to support vocabulary difficulties in the classroom at the beginning of a lesson.
- Advice and support on resources to use in the classroom and materials for schools to use.
Working with Teaching Assistants and Individual Needs Assistants
- Support using programmes and goals set by the NHS or Independent Therapist, including advice on how to integrate this into the classroom.
- Modelling working on programmes to help support staff and provide informal training.
- I have experience of writing and delivering training packages for Teaching Assistants and Individual Needs Assistants and the whole school.
- One to one direct therapy and advice on linking the work carried out in therapy sessions with work being carried out in the classroom.
- Group therapy. I can prepare and run groups or set up groups for a member of school staff to take over so that the school have a permanent resource they can use.
Speech and Language Therapy Groups:
Social Communication Groups: for example, to develop awareness of self, awareness of others, understanding of emotions and cause and effect, strategies to help control emotions, turn taking, making and maintaining friendships.
Vocabulary Groups: working on curriculum topic words and cross curriculum words, aiming to support pupils to develop independent learning skills, e.g. raising awareness of what they need to know about words in order to learn them, developing word detective skills, using dictionaries and making personal word books.
Narrative Groups: to develop awareness of the structure of texts, e.g. opening, build up, problem, resolution, ending and provide opportunities to orally plan and rehearse a range of narratives before writing them.
Language for Thinking Groups: to develop understanding of higher level questions, e.g. “Tell me one thing that is the same about an apple and an orange” “Tell me one thing that is different about an apple and an orange.”
Listening and Attention Groups: to develop ability to listen for general meaning, specific information and to extend the time that children can attend and listen for; to support the ability to complete work and to develop independent learning skills.
Speech Sound and Phonological Awareness Groups: groups can be carried out alongside Phonics or sessions can be integrated or modelled to support staff who can take them over. These groups aim to develop awareness of the structure of words, which is important for literacy skills, e.g. syllables, the first speech sound in words, rhyming words. They also aim to raise awareness of speech sounds, e.g. long speech sounds such as s, f, sh and short speech sounds such as d and b, and to help children say sounds that are difficult in words.
Supporting children in the classroom in order to model help to school staff and to embed strategies and resources.
Work carried out in all groups will be integrated into the classroom to help students transfer what they learn in one setting to another.
School Case Study
NB all names have been changed
Andrew was a talkative, popular child who was doing well in maths and science. He often put his hand up to answer questions and he worked hard. However, the teacher became increasingly aware that he was having difficulties learning vocabulary and that he was finding literacy very hard. She found it hard to pinpoint the exact cause of his difficulties as he had many strengths, which masked areas he was struggling with, and he had begun to develop strategies to try to hide difficulties.
A standard assessment for Andrew highlighted:
- Word finding difficulties where Andrew struggled to find the word he was clearly reaching for
- Short term memory difficulties where Andrew would be unable to remember the name of an object I showed him earlier
- Difficulties integrating information, e.g. Andrew understood the individual sentences in a story but he found it hard to put these together to understand the story as a whole
After the assessment, I sat with Andrew in his classroom and observed how he got on with day-to-day learning in class. This highlighted:
- Difficulty remembering curriculum topic words
- Difficulty using vocabulary effectively in his talking
- Difficulty answering questions about details in the stories and texts Andrew was looking at
- Difficulty answering higher level, more abstract questions, e.g where the answer is not given in the text but provided through inferences
- Difficulty thinking of what to say for written task
- Difficulty organising language for written tasks
It was clear from the assessment and from watching him in class that Andrew is [can you say what ‘diagnosis’ you gave Andrew or summarise what the main difficulty was that he needed help with? To help Andrew, I have provided:
- Strategies to use in the classroom
- Vocabulary resources and support for the classroom and to send home so work can be re-enforced at home.
- One to one therapy, which mum attends each week and meetings after the session with the class teacher to discuss what we did and how this can be carried through to the classroom.
- Andrew has goals for classroom learning which the teacher can measure his progress against
- Andrew’s progress can be measured informally against his written work
- Andrew has SMART targets for his one to one sessions which progress can be measured against over a specified time