How it works: Speech and Language Therapy for schools
Extensive and diverse experience
ACCESS therapists have experience of working in every kind of educational setting, in special schools and in mainstream nursery, primary and secondary schools.
We work with children who experience global delay, receptive and expressive language delay, receptive and expressive language disorder, speech delay, speech disorder, stammering (stuttering), dyslexia, autism and other learning difficulties.
We are happy to work with any student: with or without an Education and Health Care plan (EHCP). We can identify children using a bespoke assessment battery, or work with children who are identified by the school SENCo.
Typically, we will assess a student, identify areas for therapy and then work on a 1-1 basis or provide group therapy. We then reassess to gauge the improvements made by the student. In this way we provide bespoke, innovative therapy with measurable results. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to see examples of the results we have achieved in schools.
Whole School Approach
ACCESS Speech and Language Therapists have experience in supporting schools to develop a communicatively friendly environment, in line with the new SEN code. Our whole school approach is based on proven experience, manageable whole-school communication targets, drop-in sessions, inset training and co-planning and co-delivery of lessons.
We know it’s in the best interests of every child to have therapy that’s joined-up with all other interventions. So we’re more than happy to work with fellow health professionals, for example a local authority speech therapist or an occupational therapist.
We encourage staff to observe or take part in therapy sessions. And we help staff to embed a child’s new skills into their everyday school life.
In addition, we often run ‘Coffee Mornings’ for parents, alongside a SENCo, in order to provide a background to the service being offered at the school. We also give parents resources to use at home with their child, and can provide an insight into their child’s difficulties.
Example 1: Mainstream primary school - receptive language difficulty
A Year 2 child (H.A.) is behaving poorly in lessons and is struggling academically. He has not been identified previously as having any language problems, but often seems to 'tune-out' during lessons.
H.A. is assessed using the ACCESS screener and found to have a receptive language difficulty, that is, difficulty understanding others' spoken language. He has masked this difficulty by using 'environmental' cues to scaffold his limited understanding. However, his attention often wanes during longer lessons, and his behaviour has started to suffer as a result. He often feels under pressure to perform at school, and would rather be sent out of class for poor behaviour than appear 'dumb/stupid' in front of his peers.
H.A. was placed in a group of peers who exhibited similar receptive language deficits. Their goals were to increase vocabulary levels, and to be able to use strategies to improve their understanding in lessons.
After 10 weeks of intervention, H.A.'s behaviour was much improved and he was voted on to the school council by his peers. His classwork also began to improve with his use of strategies. His standardised vocabulary score increased by 5, to within the average range for his age.
Example 2: Mainstream secondary school - literacy difficulties (reading speed & low vocabulary)
A.G.'s spelling is average for his age, and he can read aloud well. When he is asked if he understands the spoken homework instructions he says 'yes' and he is provided with written instructions on 'Showmyhomework'. However, his homework is often not handed in on time, or is completely wrong. He sometimes has an excuse for not handing it in.
A.G. is in Year 8 and his levels are poor. He enjoys drama and other subjects that do not involve much reading and writing.
When assessed by an ACCESS therapist, he was found to have poor reading speed, as well as a poor vocabulary. He therefore struggled to access written information as he could only process written words at a speed that meant he forgot the start of a sentence before he had finished reading it. Using innovative therapy activities, A.G.'s ability to understand what he reads improved significantly within 10 weeks. His vocabulary also improved to within the average range for his age.
An INSET training session was carried out for teachers and TAs in order to raise awareness of the fact that many students struggle with literacy and are undiagnosed. A.G.s school has embraced the ACCESS whole school approach, enabling A.G. and his peers to access the curriculum to a greater extent.
Example 3: Mainstream secondary school - social skills difficulties
A small group of students were identified as requiring help with their social interactions. The ACCESS therapist used "smiLE" (Specific Measurable Interaction in Live English) - a ground-breaking, innovative social skills programme. Students were videoed in social situations and worked on improving their communication skills in these situations. By the end of the therapy block all students in the group were able to self-rate their skills in given situations, make plans before entering particular social situations, and had increased self-confidence in their ability to achieve a positive outcome in social interactions. Their progress was shown using a bespoke visual outcome measure and shared with teachers and the students' parents. Additional training was provided for teachers and parents in order to enable the students' progress to be continued outside the intervention sessions.