Communication and interaction are not the singular effort of the Speech Therapy team. Instead they underpin everything we do as a school. We recognise that, in order to learn, a pupil must be able to communicate and interact. We also recognise that, as facilitators of that learning, we as a school have a responsibility to each pupil to ensure that they have their communicative needs met enabling them to interact effectively, with ease and to their potential.
As a school we believe that:
- Every pupil should be able to communicate, and be communicated with, in the best way for them.
- The staff should be well trained in the different ways to communicate and feel confident in using sign, pictures and objects of reference to support speech and understanding.
- Teaching, learning and assessment should reflect individual communication styles across the curriculum.
- Our parents should feel supported in managing their child’s communication preferences at home.
- Challenging behavior is recognized as a communication from a pupil, and positive strategies are put in place to improve communicative function initially.
The Speech Therapy team aim to underpin this ethos by:
- Profiling pupils communicative preferences, using a range of standardised and non standardised assessments.
- Being present in class and modeling good practice.
- Providing training that is ongoing, supportive and functional.
- Providing class teachers with strategies to make a ‘total communication’ environment.
- Combining direct and indirect approaches to ensure communicative skill is developed in each individual pupil.
- Providing targets that are functional, relevant and achievable.
- Supporting teachers with assessment where communication may prove a limiting factor.
- Working within both the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapist clinical guidelines and Department of Health guidelines.
- Prioritizing evidence based practice.
- Ensuring all therapists are licensed to practice by the Health Professions Council and members of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists.
- Working with our NHS colleagues, via appropriate referrals, to ensure the pupils of Winchelsea receive the most comprehensive communication support possible.
We believe that for Speech and Language Therapy intervention to be truly effective it must be continuous across all settings. For this reason our school service operates at three levels
The Therapy Process at Pupil Level
Pupils are referred for direct therapy by teaching staff or parents. Once a referral has been made the pupil is considered to be ‘open’ to SALT input and the process below is followed:
We use a variety of assessment methods within the department, including formal standardized tests.
These are specialized language assessments and are only carried out by qualified Speech and Language Therapists or closely supervised Speech Therapy Assistants. Common evaluation tests used are:
- The CELF-4
- The Pre-school CELF
- The Reynell Developmental language Scales
- The Pre School Language Scale
- The Social Skills Improvement Scale
In addition to these we always do an informal observation (both in class and at play) and get an informal language sample from pupils. Where a standardized test is not appropriate a detailed informal assessment will be carried out using a play based technique, and includes a test of key word comprehension. Where possible scores are considered with and without visual supports so that a pupils responsiveness to symbols and sign can be ascertained alongside ‘pure’ expressive and receptive skills.
Results are analysed and compared to standardised results both at age (where possible) and at rough cognitive age (based on W level). If no standardised score has been possible, results are compared to developmental norms.
Reports will be written after assessment completion and will contain information relating to the areas of most impact for the pupil. Reports will be provided to parents, class teachers and are included in Education and Health Care Plans
All short term Speech and Language targets will be SMART (Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic Time measured) and will be set within areas of need. Often the SMART target will form a small step of a larger more functional goal. Where possible, this long term functional goal will also be on the pupils Individual Education Plan. Where appropriate the Speech and Language targets will be linked to the curriculum or attainment criteria and in all cases will have been discussed with the class teacher or link Speech Therapy teaching assistant. In all cases class teams take equal responsibility for tracking progress against these targets and contributing to the review process.
Following the agreement of the management plan, a period of intervention begins. Intervention takes place at four waves of support (see below). The Intervention wave is decided by the Speech and Language Therapist based on what is the best for the pupil with the highest probability of success and lowest risk. Intervention may be direct or indirect:
The SALT will decide to begin direct Intervention when it will provide a measured positive functional improvement for learning or self-esteem and:
- The areas to be worked on demand the specific knowledge or skills of a trained Speech and Language Therapist (SALT) or Assistant (SALTA - under the close supervision of a trained SALT);
- It is necessary to closely assess and monitor progress or a particular skill over a period of time;
- Work on a skill or an approach needs to take place initially within a structured 1:1 or group setting and with the expertise of an SALT, before being transferred into a broader context.
In all cases direct therapy will be recorded according to Royall College of Speech and Language Therapist Guidelines. Monitoring of progress is done half termly on a central spreadsheet, and fed back to governors.
Indirect intervention occurs either in conjunction with, or after, an episode of direct intervention from a SALT or SALTA. Indirect intervention is provided to generalise the skill that has been learnt during direct intervention. This usually consists of a specialist programme and resources from the SALT being given to the teaching staff so that they can implement skill practice throughout the day. This will include guidance, supervision and support from the SALT and SALTA. This will enable communication to become effective and functional. Practice that occurs in a natural environment is more likely to become habitual and, in turn, improve function self-esteem and learning.