Speech, Language & Social Communication

What we do for children with speech, language and social communication difficulties

 Many children experience some areas of difficulty during the course of their education, and all staff at Gidea Park Primary School are committed to finding ways of supporting children to access and make progress in their learning.

Supported Play

Children learn a lot of language from their peers, but if they have difficulty communicating this may lead to social isolation. Therefore, adults in the classroom will carefully monitor children’s play, especially in the Early Years, and find someone for the child to play jointly with for ten to fifteen minutes at a time.

Developmental progression of visual support

A few children may commence school with no verbal language. In these instances, they may be supported by systems such as Makaton signing or PECs (a system whereby children express want they want to say using picture cards) which will normally overlap with them starting to verbalise as they communicate.

Progressive acquisition of language

If a child is saying a limited number of individual words, e.g. 'toilet', they are moved on to two words, e.g. 'go toilet' ,before thinking about moving on to phrases. Clear, simple models and instructions are given, and five to ten words should be used and reinforced each week. Children may also be included in a 'Time to Talk' group, during which time they develop their language alongside other children, with the support of an adult in the classroom.

Speech Link

All children are tested on a Speech Link programme when they start at Gidea Park Primary School in Reception, to see how they are able to articulate sounds.  If your child is having particular difficulty with certain sounds, this can be addressed by Speech and Language input with a Teaching Assistant. 

Speech and Language Therapy

Should problems with articulation persist (see above), a specialist Speech and Language Therapist will be consulted by the school who can advise us as to what we can do to move a child forward. With parent/carer consent, the child may have a more in depth one-to-one appointment with the Speech and Language Therapist to determine the nature of any ongoing difficulties and how these may best be supported both in school and at home.

Social skills groups (e.g. Lego Therapy)

A group meets on a regular basis with our Home-School Support Worker and during that time engages in collaborative LEGO brick-building activities and other projects, tailored to the skill level of the participants. The tasks are analysed and different responsibilities are assigned to group members (typically these roles are 'director', 'engineer', 'supplier' and 'builder'). The team works together to assemble the project with an emphasis on verbal and non-verbal communication, joint attention and task focus, collaborative problem-solving, sharing and turn-taking (switching roles during the task).

In class, children may benefit from an agreed strategy of only being able to speak when holding a specific item to reduce incidents of calling out.

Further strategies:

Puppets and figures are sometimes used to model language in natural contexts.

How parents/carers can help

  • Engage your child in frequent talk about their environment and respond, even if your child is babbling (this is the beginning of conversation). Reduce screen time.
  • Teach your child the appropriate vocabulary – do not accept ‘thing’ or ‘stuff’. If your child says something incorrectly, say it back the right way.
  • Encourage your child to speak in a complete sentence.
  • Remember to check that your child has understood instructions by asking them  to repeat what they are to do, or by asking questions about what you have just talked about.
  • Play turn-taking games.
  • Share songs, rhymes and stories. These activities are good for developing listening and attention skills.

More information for parents, including the developmental stages children pass through in speech and language acquisition, can be found at www.talkingpoint.org.uk.