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Speech and Language in the Classroom

The Blog

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Book review: Target Ladders - Speech, Language and Communication Needs

Top of the pile at the moment is ‘Target Ladders: Speech, Language and Communication Needs’ written by Susan Lyon et al. (2013)

“A fantastic resource, one that every Senco should have on their desk.”

This book is simple to use and provides easy to follow guidance on setting targets for speech, language and communication needs for your pupils.

The first few chapters provide background information on identifying SLCN, and describe the seven aspects of SLCN covered in the book, what they are and how they develop. Reading these chapters can help you with deciding what area to focus on.

You can then choose targets for your pupils. First, you identify the area or areas causing most concern for the pupil. There are seven to choose from. These are: early communication, attention control, play and social interaction, comprehension, expressive language, social communication, and phonological awareness, auditory discrimination & speech.

You then go to the relevant target ladder in the book and track through the ladder, identifying what the pupil can do, and what steps are missing. These missing steps provide you with targets for that area, for example, ‘names 20 animals’ or ‘uses some adverbs’.

The book comes with a CD. From this you can print your chosen ladder, and highlight targets, this can then form part of the pupil’s intervention record. There is also a ‘record of progress’ sheet to photocopy for parents, a place to detail strengths, targets, and next steps. There’s advice too about how to record and monitor progress.

Within each section, there are suggested activities or strategies to support the development in that area, for example, activities for supporting play and interaction.

Overall, it’s a very useful book that takes the guess work out of target setting for SLCN. If a pupil has a therapy programme in place from a speech and language therapist, this will always be your default setting, however do discuss this book with them. There will be ways it can be used alongside any provision already in place. It would also be great for those pupils who have mild to moderate SLCN but who are not on the speech and language therapist’s caseload.

One of the main focuses of the new SEN code of practice (Sept 2014) is the involvement of parents/carers and the child themselves in target setting. This has always been encouraged, however schools will now need to show clearly how they have collected this information. To make the most of the target ladders, as suggested in the book, discuss targets with parents/carers and the pupils and choose those which they want to work on or feel are most important.

As with any intervention, you will need to use your professional judgement to pick appropriate targets from the ladders for the child you are working with. You will need to consider the resources and time available, the interests of the child, and how realistic the targets are for the child.

The authors are paediatric speech and language therapists working for East Coast Community Healthcare CIC. Susan Lyon is their team leader.

The Target Ladders series also includes books on Autistic Spectrum, Behavioural, Emotional and Social Difficulties, and Dyslexia.

Target Ladders series editor Kate Ruttle.

Available on Amazon

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