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Speech and language therapy provision in specialists schools and integrated resources – information for schools

From September 2023, the specialist schools Speech and Language Therapy service will be working in an ‘episodes of care’ model.

Reasons for referral

  • The Speech and Language Therapist has recommended a referral back to the service.
  • A child or young person is showing any of the red flags from the attached ‘meal and snack time red flags’ document.
  • A child or young person needs an updated communication profile or mealtime mat due to changes in their communication or eating, drinking and swallowing.
  • A child or young person has a degenerative condition and there has been a change in their communication or eating, drinking and swallowing drinking.
  • A child or young person needs help to use other ways of communicating, such as pictures, symbols or signing.
  • A child or young person needs help with their speech sounds and is motivated to engage in practise.

Eating and drinking referrals

Children and young people with eating and drinking difficulties can be referred using the referral form on our website. The referral form should be sent to the Speech and Language Therapy central email address on the form. Referrals can be made by parents/carers, school staff or other professionals with parental permission.

Communication referrals

We will meet with senior leadership team half-termly for a referral meeting. We will encourage parents and carers to speak to their child or young person’s class teacher if they want to refer their child for support with their speech, language and communication. From the information provided, we will agree together which children and young people need to see us and ask school to complete a referral form and gain parent and carer consent. We will be using the attached Communication Support Framework document to support these discussions. We ask that the school come prepared for the referral meeting by discussing the child or young person with their class teacher using this document, so they are clear about their strengths and challenges and what support is in place in the classroom. For children and young people who do not need to see us, we will provide information to school staff or parents and carers about other support that can be put in place.

Levels of support

Children and young people access our service through episodes of care.  This means they will be open to us when they need specific support, but closed during times when their needs can be met by the support in place in school. Sheffield Speech and Language Therapy Service provides support at three levels:

A pyramid to show the specialist, targeted and universal support.

Marie Gascoigne’s © The Balanced System framework

Universal Most children and young people who go to specialist schools and integrated resources have speech, language and communication differences or difficulties. These needs may change over time and may impact on them in different ways.

All children and young people in specialist settings benefit from strategies and support. We work with school to develop the skills of staff so that they can support children and young people’s communication in the classroom. We also signpost staff to training they can access that will help them learn to use communication, and eating and drinking strategies throughout the school day.

Most specialist settings are able to provide this ‘universal’ level of support, without children and young people needing to be referred to Speech and Language Therapy. Language and communication is at the centre of the curriculum in specialist provision and staff have experience of working with children and young people with a range of diagnoses affecting communication.

The Sheffield Speech and Language Therapy service have created a vast library of resources and training, which can be accessed for free by following the links below.

Targeted Some children and young people in specialist settings benefit from ‘targeted’ speech and language therapy support. These children and young people will be referred to our service for assessment, advice and intervention, delivered by a:
  • Speech and Language Therapist
  • Speech and Language Therapy Assistant
  • Supervised Speech and Language Therapy student
  • Trained member of school staff

The interventions might be one-to-one, in a small group or incorporated into everyday strategies at home or school. For many children and young people and their families, this level will provide enough support.

Specialist A small number of children and young people in specialist settings may need more intensive ‘specialist’ therapy at certain times. The therapist will work with the school, assistants, families and members of the multi-disciplinary team to support their communication and eating, drinking and swallowing needs. Specialist level may not be needed all of the time and may be helpful at certain points on a child or young person’s journey.

Descriptions taken from the Better Communication website © The Balanced System

What happens when a child or young person is referred to Speech and Language Therapy?

When a child or young person is referred to our service, you can expect:

A first contact

The therapist will contact the parent and carer and class teacher. They will ask questions about the child or young person’s speech, language, communication or eating and drinking and any concerns or questions school or parents might have. They will signpost school and parents and carers to useful resources from our digital resource library. This may be enough at this stage and it may be agreed that the child or young person does not need to access any targeted or specialist support at this time.

Appointments in school

If further support is needed, the therapist will book appointments for the child or young person in school.  The aim of these appointments will be to assess the child or young person or to train school staff or parents in using resources or strategies to support them.  These training sessions will only take place if there is an adult present. Parents and carers are welcome to attend appointments in school, or to meet the therapist or assistant before or after the appointment.

Children and young people will be seen for an ‘episode of care’. We will work collaboratively with the child or young person, their family, school and other key people in their life.  Once support is in place, we end the episode of care and discharge them. Some children and young people may need another episode of care at another time.  Others will not need to see us again if they are well supported by school at a universal level.

Communication profile or mealtime mat

At the end of an episode of care, the therapist will write either a summary letter, an updated communication profile or a mealtime mat.  These can be used to update the child’s Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP), transition information and their Communication and Health Passport.

Contact us

For more information please contact the Speech and Language Therapy Service at Flockton House.

Telephone: 0114 226 2333

Email: scn-tr.slt-sheffield@nhs.net

Is something missing from this resource that you think should be included? Please let us know

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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

Resource number: SL274

Resource Type: Article

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