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Speech and Language in the Classroom

The Blog

Friday, 24 February 2017

EDU Q&AS: Speech, Language and Communication

Approximate reading time: 3 minutes.

We recently published an article in SENCo Magazine, Issue 2, in case you missed it, you can read our Q&As below:

How can primary teachers ensure that pupils who find it difficult to speak or understand verbal instructions don’t get left out in class? Derry Patterson, SaLT offers some advice… 

As a primary teacher, once I know I’ll be teaching pupils with speech, language and communication needs in the coming year, what can I do to prepare?

The most valuable support that you can give children with SLCN is to ensure the language you use for teaching is accessible to everyone in the classroom. Slowing down your pace of delivery and allowing extra thinking time are two strategies that will not only help children with SLCN, but also many others in your class.
Our Language Link package details a range of further strategies you can use, grouped into four broad headings – ‘Break it down’, ‘Explain as you go’, ‘Check as you go’ and ‘Keep it visual’. 
Speech, Language and Communication: SENCo Magazine Article

Which common difficulties and challenges encountered by pupils with SLCN should I be most sensitive to?

If a child has a speech problem or difficulty with their spoken language, you will be able to identify it as soon you meet them. Conversely, the issue that is hardest to detect will be difficulty in understanding language. Children with verbal comprehension difficulties might outwardly appear to understand you – they will often soon learn the daily classroom routine by watching and copying their peers, and readily respond to any non-verbal cues when available. These children will tend to be very good at ‘making themselves invisible’ and can easily slip under the radar.
It is therefore important to be sensitive to any signs that a child might be struggling to understand the language of the classroom. Language Link features a whole class language screening tool for children in Reception, enabling teachers to quickly identify whether any children have difficulty understanding, and a provides comprehensive range of ways to support said children during class, group and individual work activities.

How can I accurately determine and assess my pupils’ understanding of spoken language?

It can be hard to know for sure whether a child understands a command, since we often use visual supports such as pointing or other visual cues – putting on one’s coat while saying ‘It’s time to go outside’, for example.
Because these cues will provide heavy hints for children who don’t understand the words used, it’s vital that a formal assessment be performed to accurately measure a child’s real understanding of spoken language. The Language Link standardised assessment is designed for precisely this purpose, being easy to administer and taking only 20 minutes to complete. It will then provide intervention recommendations for children identified as having mild or moderate difficulties, and highlight whether in-school assistance or speech and language therapy may be needed for children with more severe difficulties.

Where can parents and teachers turn to in cases where pupils have both SLCN and some other form of SEN?

We work closely with local speech and language therapy teams and SEND advisory teams, and there are a number of charities – including the Communication Trust and Afasic – that provide SLCN advice and support for parents and professionals. For SENCos, the DfE SENCo Forum is an invaluable tool for obtaining advice and developing your professional network beyond your local offering – details of how to join can be found at
You can also can find advice articles for teachers and parents written by speech and language specialists in our in-house magazine, The Link, which can be read via the Speech Link website.

What can schools and teachers do to effectively engage with parents of pupils with SLCN?

We fully recognise the importance of engaging with parents, which is why our packages provide SENCos with parent friendly advice sheets and worksheets that can be used to support the work being done at school in a fun way at home.

What is widely recognised as good practice when it comes to supporting pupils with SLCN?

In short, ‘ASSESS’, ‘PLAN’, ‘DO’ and ‘REVIEW’. A Language Link assessment can help generate evidence that children’s understanding of language has been fully investigated at school entry. The resulting reports will provide a clear picture of the language needs of all children in the class, while our online reporting system will ensure that intervention outcomes are objectively recorded and that progress is being monitored and evaluated.
Speech, Language and Communication: SENCo Magazine Article

The online version of SENCo Magazine can be found here:

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Friday, 3 February 2017

5 Tips for Online Security in Schools

Security Memory Stick
Approximate reading time: Under 2 minutes.

For our many school subscribers, January-February is that time each year when we automatically update their passwords to our secure website. As an organisation, we regularly review our online information security and data protection measures, just as each school does. We thought we would offer 5 tips for all schools subscribing to online software or with an online presence.

Ensure that your policies are up to date and that you have written permission for what you are displaying and why. You should not need more than is necessary. School staff are experienced when requesting permission for photographs but @SpeechLink now follows an increasing number of schools posting on social media (Facebook and Twitter). Has the permission form been updated for social media? And are parents fully aware of what this means?

However tricky it is to memorise the 20 passwords a day that you need before you’ve even had your morning coffee, it is important to keep them secure, especially when handling confidential pupil information. Nominate one person to change all passwords whenever a staff member leaves the team. Often, the only time a school’s Language Link password is changed is when we automatically change it annually. Don’t write passwords on a post-it note to stick to the computer. Avoid the ease of autosaving the password. We have known school staff to write their password on the whiteboard, allowing pupils to access the website for that day’s activity. Those pupils are digital natives and more able with ICT than we will ever be. And they have the time and interest to investigate further...

Clear management of policies, data and records, and the procedures surrounding them, are crucial to ensure that you have secure and justified information storage. Having one member of staff with this responsibility helps to minimise the risk of poor referencing as well as decreasing the risk of ‘misplaced’ information. When data is being used away from the school premises, encrypting the files is the safest protection. Here at Speech Link Multimedia Ltd, we use pin-protected memory sticks.

Ensure that any personal information is disposed of properly and without retrieval. There are professional organisations that wipe hard drives and similar electrical stores of information (which is probably safer than waving a hammer outside to smash up your hard drives followed by a blow torch; although that is an extreme solution!).

5. HELPFUL WEB LINKS: For Staff and Pupils
The Education Network’s e-safety section provides great tips for school internet safety:

For child safety, charming little book of advice for kids’ safety online provides a great way of sharing the dangers of the online environment in a light-hearted way:

CBBC also provides friendly advice to recommend to your pupils and children:

For further information, and to join in with Safer Internet Day 2017 07/02/17:

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