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Speech and Language in the Classroom

The Blog

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Prize Draw Winners!


We recently held a prize draw and the winners have been announced. You can find details of the winners of the following prizes on your Speech Link home page at

1st Prize - SLCN Inset day

2nd Prize - Laptop

3rd Prize - Staffroom Hamper


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Visual Timetables Top Tips

This week we are revisiting one of our most popular blogposts to date: Our Top Tips for Visual Timetables!

A visual timetable is a plan of the day in pictures or symbols. It represents the routine of the day, in the order in which it will happen. Visual timetables are a part of many primary school classrooms, as they are great for supporting understanding of the routine of the school day for the whole class. But are you making the best use of your visual timetable? Here are some top visual timetable tips!

1. Your visual timetable should be placed on a wall at the child’s eye level. It is important that the children have access to the timetable, and can refer to it when they need to.

2. Make sure your visual timetable is accessible, so don’t put it on the wall behind a desk or cupboards.

3. Go through your visual timetable at the start of every day, making it clear if there are any changes to routine that day.

4. Be prepared for a change in routine: if you are doing something different today, make sure you have a symbol to represent it. This can be as simple as a line drawing, or ask one of your pupils to draw one for you. Or keep a question mark symbol handy for unknown or undecided events!

5. Refer to your visual timetable throughout the day. Before you start an activity, and when the activity is finished.

6. When an activity is finished, ask a child to take that symbol off the timetable and put it in a ‘finished’ box. This way everyone can see at what point along the timetable we are.

7. Ensure your pupils are part of the process. Involve them in making your visual timetable at the start of the year (cutting, sticking, drawing). (You can always replace these later on, but this is a good way of introducing the symbols to the whole class).

8. Where possible involve the child in selecting the symbols and putting them on the timetable. This gives you the chance to explain and discuss expectations as you go along. The child should be able to clearly see the breaks and rewards.

9. Your visual timetable can be used to practice the language of sequencing. For example, First we have maths. Next we will do reading. Last it’s home time.

10. Visual timetables are meant to be simple. Stick to key points. It is better to use a shorter timetable that does not cover everything rather than one crammed full of information.

11. The best timetables are those that the child can use to develop some measure of independence. They should be able to see for themselves what they need to do.

Sarah Wall, Speech and Language Therapist

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Thursday, 14 May 2015

Classroom General Language Group fun!

We've been having fun playing with the new resources for the Infant Language Link Classroom themed General Language Group which will be available to subscribing schools from this September!

The classroom themed General Language Group covers the following language areas:

• Listening skills • Sounds • Vocabulary skills including association • Classroom vocabulary • Classroom action words • Same/different • Colour and shape • Following instructions • Question words who/what • Concepts - position words in, on, under, next to • Describing • Sequencing and the language of sequencing (first, next, last) • Negatives no/not • Food vocabulary

Keep an eye on the home page for updates. There will also be a By the Sea themed group.

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Thursday, 7 May 2015

New language groups sneak peek!

General Language Groups

As part of the Infant Language Link package you have access to a General Language Group all about the playground. We recommend this group for any pupil identified by the screen as having difficulties understanding language. The group is a type of language nurture group, covering many areas of language development such as vocabulary skills, basic concepts, negatives and question words. The General Language Group is ideal for reception and year one children. It consists of 8 session plans and 8 tracking sheets, plus lots of games and activities all ready to print and play.

New General Language Groups

We are currently developing two NEW General Language Groups, the Classroom and By the Sea. You can choose which group theme you would like to use. They all target the same level, one is not easier or harder than the other. So just choose the one you like the sound of! Whether it's Playground, Classroom or By the Sea!

Here's a *sneak peek* of some of the resources that will be available in the Classroom General Language Group. These new groups will be available for you to use in your school from this September.

If you have any questions about how to set up language groups or the best way to run a language group, just give the Help Desk a call on 0845 257 5084, or email

Sarah Wall, Speech & Language Therapist at Speech Link Multimedia Ltd.

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Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Response to Tristram Hunt’s comments at the NAHT conference on 1st May

Tristram Hunt, Labour’s shadow education secretary, recently spoke to journalists after addressing the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) conference. He commented on the decline of speaking and listening skills of children starting school.

The issue surrounding children’s communication skills upon school entry has recently been researched and reported by the The Early Intervention Foundation (Many young pupils 'can't communicate').

Mr Hunt said

“I am struck by how often head teachers say this [speaking and listening] has got markedly worse over the last decade.”

He recognised there are many factors which could be impacting on children’s speaking and listening skills in today’s society, whether that be the influence of technology, time-poor working parents, or lack of parent knowledge about the importance of engaging with their children.

Mr Hunt and the Labour Party have been critical of the closure of 750 Sure Start children's centres.

"We do think that teaching parenting and promoting attachment and having mums learn from mums and dads learn from dads, and children learn from children in children's centres is an important way in which the skills of parenting are crowd-sourced amongst communities."

We hope to see the new government push to reopen these Sure Start centres.

The importance of speaking and listening skills

Children come into school with a wide range of language skills and identifying where each pupil is at is important to allow teachers to put the right support in place at the right time. Here at Speech Link Multimedia Limited, we have written about the impact of poor speaking and listening skills and poor language skills on children’s development in previous blogposts.

Recognising the potential impact of delayed speaking, listening and language skills at a young age, we are passionate about the importance of identifying these children early on.

Language Link provides schools with a tool to reliably screen every pupil for delayed language skills. The tool allows for whole class screening, giving teachers the insight into the language skills of their class, and identifying any pupils who may benefit from specific intervention to nurture their language skills.

Following the screening, teachers are provided with a package of interventions to suit the needs of their class. For example, whole class strategies are recommended, language groups can be set up, and individual or small group activities are also included. Activities targeting the development of listening skills in particular are included. The resources can be used with any child who may benefit from a focus on his/her speaking, listening and language skills.

Language Link also provides information and resources for parents surrounding speaking and listening skills. The resources which schools can download for parents aim to help parents support their own children’s language development.

The language of the classroom – why is testing necessary?

It is tricky to spot when a child is having difficulty understanding the language of the classroom. A child may look as though they are understanding what the teacher is saying, however there are many ways a child can mask their difficulty understanding the language used. They may be following their peers, using routine, or picking up on visual cues to meaning. The only reliable way to check whether a child is understanding language at the level expected of their age is through the use of structured assessment on a 1:1 basis.

To find out more about the Language Link packages, click here.

Quotes from BBC news report 1st May 2015.

Tristram Hunt (@TristramHuntMP) led the popular #SLTchat on Twitter on 3rd May where he hosted questions on the future of the education policy.

Related news:

Parents have duty to play with children, says Hunt

Children spend six hours or more a day on screens

Many young pupils 'can't communicate'

Radio 4 programme – the language parents use to talk to their children

30 million word gap

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