Empowering school staff to support Speech, Language & Communication Development

Empowering school staff to support Speech, Language & Communication Development

Nicola Blundell
by Nicola Blundell
Published on Feb 19, 2024
0 min read

The vital importance of school staff with supporting Speech, language and communication development

“Wait, wait, you need to hear this”; said a TA rushing down the corridor towards me, beaming. “Billy can now say his ‘k’ sound and we are so proud, he’s telling everyone”. This, and similar positive feedback, is something we regularly hear from school staff who work with children to support their speech, language and communication skills. School staff are some of the key agents of change for children with Speech Language Communication Needs (SLCN). In MAST we aim to work with, and empower, school staff to develop their skills in order to help not only the children on our caseloads, but also the wider school community.

The communication pyramid above shows the broad areas which Speech & Language Therapists can help support children with. Evidence shows that children with poor speech, language and communication skills get fewer GCSE grades A-C than their peers (Bercow 2008). Snowing et al in 2011 showed that children with poor language and literacy skills at aged 5, have lower education achievement at aged 7. This research highlights how vital early intervention and support is!

Why school staff are key agents of change

The most effective way to ensure children reach their communication potential is to work with timely intervention utilising the key people in a child’s life. Practicing with a Speech and Language Therapist weekly is highly beneficial, but the largest positive impact can be made if children work on their skills a little and often, in different situations and at the right time to help them generalise their skills. Wherever possible, we work with key grown-ups from the child’s home life and key members of school staff.

How we work with school staff

Our team aims to empower school staff to support students with all aspects of speech and language skills and development. We do this by;

• offering staff to sit in on sessions to see what we do

• modelling programmes /activities, running whole class sessions and sometimes even assemblies!

• offering bespoke insets depending on the needs of the students, allowing us to tailor our support for the school itself

We aim to ensure these are fun activities to aid engagement, do not add to already busy workloads and may be completed within everyday activities where possible. A favourite of the children we work with is a competition with their teacher/TA with the winner getting a merit/dojo! Currently, the children are definitely beating the school staff! Empowering and supporting school staff to be the agents of change for children is incredibly impactful and ensures the skills are transferable and quickly adaptable to different situations.

We feel working in conjunction with school staff is a real privilege and we relish these opportunities to upskill the staff and enable the children on our caseloads (and the wider school community) to succeed.