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Speech and Language in the Classroom

The Blog

Friday, 19 August 2016

SLCN Update: Language Delay by Numbers (Infographic), by Derry Patterson, SaLT

Approximate reading time: Under a minute.

In the last few years the importance of early language development has come into sharp focus. The link between environment in early childhood and language development is well established. 


Here are a few uncomfortable numbers:

40% Of the poorest boys in England start school without the language skills needed to learn. Read On Get On campaign.  7 years. Is the gap between the best and worst 10 year old readers in England. Read On Get On campaign.  25% Of children start school unable to communicate at the level expected for their age. Early Intervention Foundation Report  1 in 3 Children growing up in poverty have delayed language development. ICan  15 months If you lag behind by more than 15months when you start school you are unlikely to be able to catch up.  8 million Fewer words heard a year by children living in social disadvantage. Early Language Delays in the UK

Sources: Early Language Delays in the UK. Law, J. et al (2013)/Read On Get On campaign (2014) www.savethechildren.org.uk Early Intervention Foundation report (2015) www.eif.org.uk/www.ican.org.uk

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Friday, 12 August 2016

Education Update: 'Funding for Disadvantaged Pupils’ Report, by Jo Chessum, Specialist Teacher

Approximate reading time: 2 mins, 30 secs.

With Pupil Premium children being a key focus of Ofsted Inspections, here’s a summary of the recent Funding for Disadvantaged Pupils’ Report published in September 2015.

The report shows that the funding has narrowed the gap for both primary and secondary aged pupils. However, the gap has remained large and progress has been uneven across the country. Although there is a growing evidence base for ‘what works’, the report claims that more needs to be done to encourage schools to use and share ‘best practice’. The report goes on to suggest that Pupil Premium Reviews should be mandatory for schools that fail to evidence effective use of the funding.

Lack of parental engagement has been identified by many schools as a significant barrier to closing the attainment gap. The report suggests that very few schools are using the Pupil Premium to address this and that clear guidance is required on ‘what’, ‘when’ and ‘how’!
Only 37% of schools recommended for a Pupil Premium Review actually had one. Disadvantaged pupils do better in schools where they are present in very high or very low numbers. Only one third of schools fully adhere to the requirements of the Pupil Premium Annual Report.
Top Tip
Parental engagement has been identified as a significant barrier to closing the attainment gap but schools are not using Pupil Premium to address this. Here are some of the ideas we have seen used to engage ‘hard to reach’ parents. Why not try some out in your school?

• Staff greet parents at the school gate, putting faces to names.
• Parental Support Workers/Family Liaison Workers offer 1:1 or small group support.
Home visits to make contact outside of the school environment.
• Frequent text message updates to highlight children’s achievements.
• ‘Welcome to School’ room that feels more like a lounge than a meeting room.
• ‘Success Lounge’ for sharing positive experiences.
Workshops on phonics, language, writing, etc. to help parents understand what their child is learning.
Workshops on English, ICT, etc. to develop the parents’ own skill base.
Workshops on how to understand school reports, EHCPs, etc.
Out of school hours learning opportunities for children and their parents, both academic and fun!
Resources to support learning outside school.
Parent mentors through a ‘Parent Support Group’.
Parent-led workshops relating to personal experiences.
Child-led workshops to encourage parents to attend.

Read more: Narrowing the Gap

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Friday, 5 August 2016

Effective TA Support for SLCN in the Classroom

Approximate reading time: Under 1 min, 30 secs.

One of the messages we are keen to share is that those strategies that support children with language delay or difficulties can also promote learning for children with other or indeed no additional needs. Embedding such strategies into daily classroom practice is a move towards a more inclusive approach but that must involve both teachers and TAs.

Pre-Teaching key concepts, ideas and vocabulary prior to lessons can enable children to access learning at a higher level, rather than focusing on meaning alone.

Repetition and Clarification of instructions or information helps children to understand. Remember to maintain some level of challenge. Encouraging children to break down tasks into manageable chunks and think about their organisation can help children develop a more independent approach to learning.

Commentary is a very useful tool and not just for younger children. Providing a narrative whilst children are working on tasks models good language and helps children understand processes. Encouraging children to provide commentary for each other extends opportunities for use of language across a range of classroom activities.

Rehearsal allows children to practise oral work (or orally for written work). Repeating what they have said, word for word, helps them check for sense and structure. Asking open questions, those that require more than just a one word answer, promotes higher level thinking and provides a deeper learning experience.


FREE RESOURCE: Teacher lesson guidance for TAs! Download from www.thelink.online

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Friday, 22 July 2016

Supporting the Support Staff: Guidance on Making the Best Use of TAs, by Jo Chessum, Specialist Teacher

Approximate reading time: 1 min, 30 secs.

I have had the privilege of sharing my classroom with some of the most creative, insightful and (dare I say…) effective Teaching Assistants. I doubt that I am alone when I found the research evidencing that ‘pupils receiving the most support make the least progress’ somewhat upsetting. Don’t get me wrong… I am all too aware of the variable knowledge, skills and experience that TAs can have; and yes, I have had to work hard at times to create a culture that promotes independent learning with TAs who genuinely ‘just want to help’. Yet I can honestly say that the progress of the pupils I have taught has undoubtedly been the result of a team effort.

‘Don’t Blame TAs’


So I breathed a sigh of relief when reading the recently published guidance on ‘Making the Best Use of Teaching Assistants’. The report suggests that the negative impact, of additional support on pupil’s progress, is a result of issues relating to whole school practice rather that the fault of TAs themselves. In what has become a direct, pedagogical role, TAs are consistently allocated to work with the lowest attaining pupils, to have no time to plan, prepare and feedback with the teacher and to have limited access to appropriate training. The research suggests that it is decisions made about TAs, not by TAs, that best explains their impact on pupil progress. The guidance outlines points Senior Leaders need to consider in reviewing their deployment of TAs.

To find out more about how TAs can effectively support language development in the classroom visit www.thelink.online

Recommendations for Improving the IMPACT of TAs:


I Provide INTERVENTIONS with clear planning, resources and expected outcomes.
M MAKE LINKS between intervention work and classroom based learning.
P PREPARE TAs for the content of lessons, what they need to know and what they need to do.
A ASK for feedback about the progress of children against intended learning outcomes.
C CHANGE classroom practice so the TAs are not always supporting the lower attaining pupils.
T Provide TRAINING in delivering interventions AND pedagogical classroom practice.


FREE RESOURCE: Teacher lesson guidance for TAs! Download from www.thelink.online

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Friday, 15 July 2016

Doing the Tango without Stepping on Toes, by Susan McMackin, SaLT:

A Review of 'The Teaching Assistant's Guide to Effective Interaction: How to Maximise Your Practice' 

(Bosanquet, Radford, Webster, 2016)

Bosanquet, P. and Radford, J. and Webster, R. (2016) The Teaching Assistant’s Guide to Effective Interaction: How to Maximise Your Practice. First published 2016 by Routledge, Printed and bound by CPI Groups (UK) Ltd.
Throughout the years of working in schools both as a visiting therapist or as a member of the staff team, I have been struck by the talent and capability of some of the Teaching Assistants (TAs) working with some of the lowest attaining pupils in the classroom. 

The SEN Code of Practice (DfE/DoH, 2015) recognises the distinction in roles of the teacher and TAs in the classroom, making it clear that the teacher is ‘responsible and accountable for the progress and development of the pupils in their class, including where pupils access support from teaching assistants or specialist staff' (p. 99). Although it is the teacher’s responsibility to differentiate tasks to ensure the learning is accessible, the TA has more opportunity for sustained interaction with pupils and is therefore ideally positioned to support and monitor the small steps needed for pupils to achieve their learning goals.  

Make no mistake, the demands of this pedagogical role of a TA in the classroom is a complex one and a tall order for a professional group known to have limited access to appropriate training (MAST: see http://maximisingtas.co.uk/research.php).  It seems to me, the timing and presentation of steps involved in supporting pupils effectively is a bit like doing the Tango without stepping on toes.

Watching the ‘TA-Pupil Tango’, we see the most effective TAs building pupil confidence and motivation to engage with learning. They provide on-line, responsive and personalised feedback to enable pupils to reach next steps with learning and most importantly equip pupils with strategies to foster their independence in learning...like that alone is not enough?   

Furthermore, TAs need to ensure the teacher has accurate information about the nature and level of support required for pupils to achieve the learning outcomes. Many of us however have witnessed the ‘well-intentioned dance’ of the TA desperate for pupils to succeed, fall into the trap of ‘giving answers’ in an effort to ensure pupils complete tasks and keep pace with peers. 


So how can we ensure TA support in the classroom promotes independence in learning? 

I recently read the ‘The Teaching Assistant’s Guide to Effective Interaction’ (Bosanquet, Radford and Webster, 2016); an excellent professional development tool that demystifies the steps of this beautiful dance.  The book is aimed at TAs in pedagogical roles.  It sets out a carefully staged framework of support, aimed at promoting independence in learning using ‘A framework for scaffolding learning’. The focus is on the quality of interaction between the TA-pupil, and the principles underpinning the model can be used flexibly to support pupils across a range of learning tasks.

‘Scaffolding’ is one of those terms that one hears frequently in ‘educational-speak’ and yet its meaning is elusive. But the framework clearly outlines the ‘how to’ of scaffolding, focusing on breaking the task into successive smaller steps (called Process Success Criteria); very similar to the ‘Task Boards’ a Speech and Language Therapist may recommend using for pupils with language difficulties. 

The model goes beyond a small step approach and provides a graduated response to pupils at each step, first with low level of adult support (i.e. self-scaffolding) and systematically moving to higher levels of support with prompting, clueing, modelling and correcting; a clear structure to help TAs navigate a way of promoting independence and avoid falling into the trap of over-supporting pupils.
Bosanquet, P. and Radford, J. and Webster, R. (2016) The Teaching Assistant’s Guide to Effective Interaction: How to Maximise Your Practice. First published 2016 by Routledge, Printed and bound by CPI Groups (UK) Ltd.

As a Speech and Language Therapist working with pupils with language difficulties, I can see the enormous value of using this tool in supporting TA’s to respond to pupils with language difficulties in lessons and ultimately, I can see its value to pupils in self-regulating their learning.  In my view, this is an invaluable professional development tool for SENCos and Senior Leaders. If we want to watch the ‘TA-Pupil Tango’, we need to teach the steps to do the dance.


References:

Bosanquet, P. and Radford, J. and Webster, R. (2016) The Teaching Assistant’s Guide to Effective Interaction: How to Maximise Your Practice. First published 2016 by Routledge, Printed and bound by CPI Groups (UK) Ltd. 

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Friday, 24 June 2016

Narrowing the Gap: Part 2: Ben’s Story: Raising Attainment, by Susan McMackin, SaLT

We are all teachers of SEN. How we can make the difference.

Ben’s Story: Raising Attainment

SLCN, communication, child development, language, speech and language

0-2 years

Ben is a happy friendly baby. He is never any trouble and sleeps and eats well. He is a bit late to talk but so were his father and brother.


3-5 years

Ben is a lively physical boy. At nursery he sometimes gets frustrated when he doesn’t get his own way. He flits between activities and takes a while to settle. He talks to adults but it can be hard to understand him. Staff have noticed that his vocabulary is slow to develop so they work on some simple language games and focus Ben’s attention before giving him instructions.


6–11 years

Ben is behind his peers but his teacher always gives him plenty of time to answer questions and carry out tasks. Ben is finding literacy hard and receives extra help. He has attended several Language Link groups and is beginning to follow instructions and learn vocabulary more easily. Ben is a lively member of the class but is learning to control his impulsive behaviour and has responded well to time-out sessions.


11-14 years

A transition support plan was created for Ben. His KS4 mentor helps him find his way around the school and supports him at lunch & break times. The year group manager meets Ben weekly for tutor time and emails mum regularly. At first Ben refused any additional support but his KS4 mentor accompanied him and now he goes on his own. Ben has a short attention span and finds it hard to listen in lessons so the SENCo works with teachers to promote more paired work and practical tasks in class. Ben is doing well in DT and attends DT club. Ben’s attendance is 96%.


14-16 years

Ben still struggles with English but his teacher uses media in lessons and Ben engages with this. Student Support helps Ben to keep a record of key vocabulary for study. Ben has a small group of friends at school. His work experience was at a garage. An LSA went on Ben’s first day to settle him. His report was excellent. Ben is expected to get 5 GCSEs.


Leaving School

A transition support plan was created for College. Ben is doing the Motor Vehicle course. He loves the practical but ‘could do without the written stuff.’ The college helped Ben to secure a placement at the garage where he did his work experience and he continues to develop his literacy and numeracy skills through work based learning. His attendance at college is excellent. Ben has met some friends on the course.

How does Language Link help to raise attainment?

ASSESS   

Standardised  Assessment: Online,  TA-led to identify a child’s ability in key areas of language.


PLAN 

Provision Maps: Live, instant data gives picture of general language levels and tracks effectiveness of group and individual interventions.


DO  

Support Plans and Resources: Planned small intervention groups making the best use of a TA’s time and expertise, whole class strategies for teachers.


REVIEW 

Repeat Testing: Offers evidence of any improvement in language skills. Measured outcomes for Pupil Premium and Ofsted.


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Friday, 10 June 2016

Narrowing the Gap: Part 1: Ben’s Story: An Opportunity Missed, by Derry Patterson, SaLT

We are all teachers of SEN. How we can make the difference.

Ben’s Story: An Opportunity Missed

SLCN, communication, child development, language, speech and language

0-2 years

Ben is a happy friendly baby. He is never any trouble and sleeps and eats well. He is a bit late to talk but so were his father and brother.

3-5 years

Ben is lively physical boy. At nursery he sometimes gets frustrated when he doesn’t get his own way. He flits between activities and takes a while to settle. He talks to adults but it can be hard to understand him. Staff have noticed that his vocabulary is slow to develop.

6–11 years

Ben is struggling to learn to read. He has had some additional support for literacy but has made limited progress. He often gets frustrated and can be very disruptive in class. He has had a couple of day suspensions. He has a few friends but is constantly falling out with them.

11-14 years

Ben found transition to secondary school difficult. School is ‘boring’ (apart from DT with Mr Jay who is ‘cool’). He refuses to attend additional support - he’s not a ‘geek’. His teachers are frustrated by his disruption in lessons and he has a growing record of internal exclusions. He is alone at break and lunch times.

14–16 years

Ben is not scared by a ‘dare’ but the last one ended with a police interview. He said he just did it ‘cuz my mate dared me’. Ben spent some time in a PRU and is now back in his mainstream school. He’s doing well in DT. Work experience in a café was a failure because he ‘messed up customer orders’ and ‘couldn’t work as a team’. At weekends he games in his bedroom. He’s met ‘mates’ online.

Leaving School

Ben didn’t get on the car mechanic course at college. He’s doing Functional Skills and ‘it’s boring’. His ‘all-nighters’ gaming make getting up for college difficult. He’s on a warning about his attendance.


SLCN, communication, child development, language, speech and language, dissociated, narrowing the gap, SENCO,

On Friday 24th June, find out how Ben’s story can be changed...



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