Speech & Language Therapist
Hello, my name is Thea Cook and I am the Clinical Lead for Special Schools in Luton and Bedfordshire. My role is funded by the NHS and Luton Local Authority. I have been a S< for 12 years now, and I love what I do to support staff, families and young people in Luton.
Speech & Language Therapist
Hello, my name is Rebecca Glasspool and I am a Specialist Speech and Language Therapist working for the NHS. I have been a Speech and Language Therapist for 7 years and in my current role I support the Pre-school Complex Needs team at Redgrave Gardens (the Edwin Lobo Centre) and the Special Schools in Luton. I am passionate about supporting children and young people to communicate.
Speech & Language Therapist
Hello! I’m Sophie, the school Speech and Language Therapist. I have been a Speech and Language Therapist for 10 years supporting children with complex needs across Early Years and Special Schools, including those with eating and drinking difficulties. I am passionate about supporting children to meet their communication potential and developing communication rich environments.
Speech and Language Therapy at Richmond Hill School
We are the Speech and Language Therapists (S<s) currently working at Richmond Hill School in Luton and would like to tell you about what we do and how we support the pupils, their parents and the staff team across the school.
Speech and Language Therapists are Allied Health Professionals who are registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT).
What do Speech and Language Therapists do at Richmond Hill School?
We provide support for children and young people who have speech, language and communication needs (SLCNs); this can look like training for staff and / or parents, assessments and observations, demonstrations in class or individual sessions, discussions and problem-solving. We provide information in reports, handouts, videos and drop-in sessions. NHS S<s also work with children who have swallowing difficulties to make sure that they are safe when eating and drinking.
The whole staff team at Richmond Hill work together to meet each pupil’s SLCNs within the specialist, communication-friendly environment of the school. We have an acronym to describe this:
All SMART targets are jointly agreed and reviewed, including for embedded approaches (e.g. Intensive Interaction, Attention Autism, accessible choice-making, signing).
Promote independence, generalisation, and functionality of multi-modal communication skills by using physical prompting which is faded as each pupil’s skills develop.
Remember that learning to use Alternative & Augmentative Communication (AAC) functionally requires good relationships, opportunities (at least 50 per day), and a range of motivators that are important to each pupil
Integrate opportunities to develop social communication skills and to then practice these in a range of real life situations across the day, including turn-taking, joint attention skill, initiation of interactions, sharing toys, and greeting others.
Create opportunities for communication throughout the day, making sure that the reasons for these opportunities are not only to request, but also to reject, give opinions, comment, ask for help & show knowledge.
Observe how pupils may use learnt phrases or complex, delayed echolalia as part of their expressive language, and when they do, model what they could say instead.
Take time to use the visuals and structure each pupil responds to consistently in order to reduce anxiety and support transitions:
Continuously use & review appropriate AAC mode(s) for each pupil, remembering to focus on generalisation of skills across people, activities & settings (N.B. these may be different for expression and understanding)
Help with the development of verbal language, as appropriate to developmental needs:
Empower parents to successfully use visuals, structure, and AAC at home
Ensure consistent learning strategies are used by all who support each pupil e.g. predictable routines, repetition, reduce distractions, rewards, give processing time, backward chaining, learning breaks
Specialist approaches are implemented as modelled and recommended (e.g. language programs, speech sound therapy, Identiplay, Social Stories, and Comic Strip Conversations).
Expected behaviours & communication modes should be modelled consistently
Children should have a functional, low-tech communication mode in place, which is no longer meeting their needs, before trialling a hi-tech communication mode alongside it.
Use all opportunities (e.g. training, demonstrations, modelling in class, targeted discussions) to develop skills and knowledge to support pupils, and when implementing these skills, seek further advice as needed.
Know that behaviour is communication, and expressive language skills can be affected by emotions, the visual support in place, health and/or physiological needs
Enable a pupil’s emotional development by labelling their emotion, giving a brief possible reason for it, and showing them how to make themselves feel better or reassuring them that it is ok to not be ok.
The green elements above describe the Universal level which is appropriate for all pupils at the school and the blue elements describe the Targeted level which is appropriate for children who need more guided support as well as the Universal level elements. We think of the levels as a pyramid to help describe what we do:
The pupils at the school are often supported by a variety of methods to enable them to develop their understanding and communicate with those around them. This includes using objects, gestures & signing, photographs, symbols and their immediate environment, alongside spoken language. If a child is unsure about what they are expected to do, or frustrated that they cannot communicate effectively, they may express themselves through their behaviour. This is where S<s would work with school and parents to look at the situation and identify strategies to support communication, such as AAC (including Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), a Communication Book or Voice Output Communication Aid (VOCA).
In addition to this, NHS therapists and Support Practitioner may provide therapy sessions focused on voice difficulties, reducing the impact of stammering, speech sound development and specific interventions to support language development. Members of staff are invited to attend these sessions so that practise can continue between sessions.
The NHS and school-employed therapists work together to support pupils, their parents and the staff team across the school. The NHS therapists work mainly at the Targeted and Specialist levels and after a period of therapy, with the appropriate support remaining in place, the children may no longer need to be seen by the NHS S<s. Instead, their SLCNs can be supported within class by the whole-class support and groups provided by the school-employed therapist. The school-employed therapist works mainly at the Targeted and Universal levels, carrying out whole class observations, modelling activities and strategies in class as well as providing support to enrich the communication environment. This also includes providing regular staff training to support and empower staff to support student’s SLCN.
Together, everyone supporting each pupil is involved with meeting their SLCNs and providing the provision on their EHCP.