The Communication Team are:
Amanda Needle (Monday to Friday)
Claire Trimmer (Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday)
What do we do?
Our main aim is to enable pupils to communicate as effectively as possible in a Total Communication environment. This means we would concentrate on those aspects of communication that are likely to make the most significant and long term difference to their everyday lives.
We promote the use of 'multi-modal communication', that is, the use of all forms of communication such as signing, symbols, pictures, gestures and facial expressions, in addition to speech.
We aim to enable children to use whatever communication skills they have already to maximum effect, and to build on these skills where possible.
- New children as they enter school, in partnership with NHS Speech and Language.
- At intervals during their time at school.
- Sometimes, before they leave school.
- At the request of school staff or parents/carers.
Assessment may include formal and /or informal individual assessment, observation, discussion with class staff, parents and other professionals.
We will also – alongside class staff, nurses, physios and the school doctor and dietician – assess how your child is coping with feeding at mealtimes and if any changes need to be made, especially if their skills or needs change
Ongoing work with children
- Individual work with children – to practice and improve particular skills.
- In groups – so that they can practice communication together and learn from each other.
- In class:
- many of our pupils have difficulty transferring skills to new situations. It is crucial therefore to work alongside class staff to teach pupils communication skills within their real life settings.
- so that class staff can observe and work alongside us, and are enabled to support and develop children's communication skills throughout the school day.
- In partnership with parents – much of children's communication is at home.
- If your child needs special assistance with feeding, we will be working with all the people involved to provide special equipment and suggest strategies relating to the presentation and texture of the food and drink.
Setting and reviewing targets
- Jointly with class staff and through discussion with parents.
- Targets need to be clear, realistic and achievable.
- Targets should be worked on throughout the day, by all those who interact with the child.
- Symbols for communicating with friends and for accessing the curriculum.
- Communication books.
- Gesture dictionaries.
- Communication passports.
These take a lot of time to produce and have to be made according to individual children's needs, but can make an enormous difference to a child if used regularly and effectively.
Whole school role
We work with other members of the school Communication Team to:
- Assist in the development of policies.
- Offer training to whole school staff.
- Develop whole school projects (eg. lunchtime photos, development of Victoria Core signs, class communication books, updating symbol software, Objects of Reference).
- Develop a Total Communication Environment throughout the school through projects such as a Communication Audit.
Voice output communication aids
Some of our pupils use voice output communication aids (VOCAs) to support their communication. These range from simple devices such as a single switch with a message recorded on it, to complex devices like computers containing lots of language stored in different ways.
Part of our role is to assess, (in conjunction with other agencies such as ACT and physiotherapy) which devices are most suitable for individual pupils and then to support parents and school staff with:
- Understanding how to use the communication aid.
- Gathering and planning the vocabulary needed.
- Supporting the student to practice the skills needed to use the communication aid successfully, in their real life settings.
- Programming new language into the communication aid.
- Arranging repairs where needed.
- Reviewing progress.
What do we expect from others?
- That work towards developing communication will be carried out by all those involved with the child.
- That parents will continue to develop communication at home.
- That parents will let us know of any changes or new information that will affect their child's communication.