Speech & Language Therapy
Speech and Language Therapists who support pupils at Woodlands are employed by Livewell South West’s Children's Speech and Language Service. The therapists are available to work in the school during term time and/or with families both in and out of term time. Their advice and support is accessed via an initial ‘Request for Help’ discussion and form (available on the Livewell Website). The school has access to a range of therapists who have expertise in different areas which gives greater flexibility to meet the needs of all the pupils.
The school provides specialist assessment advice for pupils with rare and complex needs, working closely with a range of external therapists and advisers. We offer assessment of individual pupils’ communication needs, offer equipment loans and provide detailed assessments with a multi-skilled team of professionals.
The SLT service can assess a child individually and parents and staff will be involved in this process. If intervention is required this may involve individual or group sessions or may be in the form of recommendations to be carried out within the classroom setting and at home. It is important to involve everyone in helping to promote the child's communication. Whilst a child is being seen regular advice is given to staff and parents about how they can help.
Advice about eating and drinking is provided by dysphagia specialists. A growing number of pupils require support for eating and drinking at Woodlands and staff are trained annually to provide this at a high quality level
How Speech and Language Therapists work with Staff at Woodlands
Woodlands provides 6 days of support for communication development in school each week. This is staffed by 2 members of the teaching assistant team. They provide support for individual pupils and their work is overseen by the deputy head. Woodlands communication TAs have specific areas of specialism and have time allocated to develop these skills. For example, they can provide support in communicating with pupils who have multisensory impairment, Intensive Interaction skills, signing support and use of symbols for learning. In addition, whilst a child is on the Speech and Language Service caseload, there will be specialist guidance from the speech and language therapy service. SLTs also support classroom staff in the development of their skills to support pupils’ specific communication and language needs.
All staff have had training in the use of augmentative communication approaches which can take many forms at Woodlands.
Signing: The school uses Makaton signing to support most pupils’ communication needs, with some pupils learning BSL or requiring on-body (Cannan Barrie) signing.
Symbols – Pupils may use a range of objects / symbols to support their communication and learning. This includes using objects of reference, photographs, line drawings, PCS symbols or more advanced specialist communication devices. Some staff have expertise in the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) and this is used in some classes as appropriate.
Communication Aids – Pupils may use a wide range of Voice Output Communication Aids (VOCAs) to support their communication, from simple Big Mac single switch talkers to iPads and Dynavox aids. The school also has access to the Bristol Communication Aid Service, an NHS England funded service, when appropriate via referral from a SLT.