How will schools support pupils with communication needs?

Children and young people with SEN may have difficulties in one or more of the areas of speech, language and communication. These children and young people need help to develop their linguistic competence in order to support their thinking, as well as their communication skills. Specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia or a physical or sensory impairment such as hearing loss may also lead to communication difficulties.”

What are communication needs - We often take communication skills for granted but many children with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) find it difficult to communicate with others. Some children find it hard to: understand what is said to them, form words and construct sentences, find the right words to express thoughts and feelings, and understand rules for social interaction and conversation.

Speech, language and communication underpin everything we do, they are crucial for reading, learning in school, for socialising and making friends, and for understanding and controlling emotions or feelings.

Identification - For some children, identification will have been initiated and SLCN recognised when the child is very young. For other children, the difficulties may emerge later, as the child starts nursery or school. Sometimes SLCN are not apparent until the child is older, perhaps as the school curriculum becomes more challenging or the child is showing increasing signs of frustration resulting in difficulties that affect behaviour.

A child with speech, language and communication needs:

  • Might have speech that is difficult to understand

  • They might struggle to say words or sentences

  • They may not understand words that are being used, or the instructions they hear

  • They may have difficulties knowing how to talk and listen to others in a conversation

  • May be on the autistic spectrum and need support in specific areas such as understanding non-literal language or social communication.

Children may have just some or all of these difficulties; they are all very different.

The process of identification may be initiated by a variety of people depending on the child's age and those involved in their life, these can include parents, Health visitors, GPs, Pre-school staff and teachers.

Accurately identifying communication needs requires careful observation of the child in a variety of contexts, knowledge of the environment and a range of tools to provide a complete picture of the child’s strengths, difficulties and needs.

Support - When a child has been identified with communication issues then they can be targeted through support programs which can be delivered in small groups or on an individual basis. This support may be provided by class teachers or teaching assistants. This support is carefully planned out to meet the needs of the child. Occasionally external agencies may need to be involved such as Language and Learning Support Service (LLSS) to provide further support and assessment.

A child whose mother language is not English usually has none of the above communication problems, these children can communicate we just need to listen. On request the school can provide access to The English as an Additional Language Service (TEALS) as required.