Making your school more communication friendly

Making your school more communication friendly

05 Apr 2024

Speech Link Multimedia

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This informal CPD article, ‘Making your school more communication friendly’, was provided by Sophie Mustoe-Playfair, a specialist speech and language therapist at Speech Link Multimedia, who have an ongoing mission to bring Speech and Language Therapy knowledge to every school and help all children reach their full communication potential.

Communication friendly schools provide a safe, inclusive environment for all children, but are especially beneficial for students with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN). There are a number of things a school needs to have in place before they can truly become a communication friendly school:

1. A designated member of staff for SLCN

A designated member of staff to oversee the provision of support for SLCN in the school enables one member of staff to be trained to a higher level in SLCN. This person, often a Higher-Level Teaching Assistant (HLTA) or Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo), provides school staff and parents with someone to ask for advice and can liaise with the school’s speech and language therapy (SaLT) services, to make the most of this support. This person can then disseminate and cascade information throughout the school.

2. Training for staff on SLCN

It is beneficial for all staff to have an understanding and knowledge of SLCN so that they can apply this in their teaching and interaction to ensure all children are able to access learning. Regular professional development training should focus on raising awareness of SLCN and using classroom approaches to support children.

3. Universal screening for SLCN

Many children with SLCN are slipping through the net because their difficulties are commonly disguised by challenging behaviour, literacy difficulties and/or poor academic progress. In addition, children with SLCN can be very adept at using context, visual cues and routines to mask difficulties understanding language.

It is important to consider universal screening at several stages of a child’s school career to ensure that everyone with SLCN is identified and the correct support can be put in place early. The information from universal screening can also be used to inform whole school planning.

4. A system for monitoring progress for pupils with SLCN

The school needs a clear way of monitoring and evaluating progress for pupils with SLCN.       This could include carrying out regular classroom observations or ‘learning walks’ to ensure high quality teaching strategies and differentiation are in place. There needs to be a structured system in place to measure the effectiveness of differentiated work and interventions for pupils with SLCN.

5. A communication audit

The use of staff training, an audit tool and a communication friendly school checklist can support schools to identify areas of strength and areas to develop, with clear action plans identified.

6. A policy for SLCN

It is important to have a written policy outlining the systems in place to both identify and support children with SLCN. This should be shared with all staff and updated in line with training and current practices.

7. Transition planning

Schools need to have a clear way of passing information on students with SLCN on to staff members as the student moves up through the school or across lessons. This should include details about interventions and targets, successful classroom strategies, current assessment results and the impact of any interventions.

8. Quality first teaching strategies implemented in every classroom

High quality teaching strategies including breaking instructions down, using visuals, regular check-ins and clear explanations, should be used for all children as part of regular classroom practice. These strategies are particularly useful for children with SLCN and will support them to be included within the classroom. With these in place, additional targeted and specialist strategies, such as those set by a SaLT, will be more effective.

We hope this article was helpful. For more information from Speech Link Multimedia, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively, you can go to the CPD Industry Hubs for more articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.

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Speech Link Multimedia

Speech Link Multimedia

For more information from Speech Link Multimedia, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively please visit the CPD Industry Hubs for more CPD articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.

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