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School-based support unlocks communication potential

The goal of education is to give every pupil the opportunities they need to fulfil their potential.

For some children, that means a little extra support at key moments of their school journey.

That is why Birmingham Community Healthcare (BCHC) has developed the ‘traded services’ programme to help schools access support flexibly and promptly for their pupils – as and when they need it.

St Alban’s Catholic Primary School in Kings Heath contacted the traded services team because they believed some of their pupils would benefit from speech and language therapy.

Special educational needs co-ordinator Anne Grego said: “We believed that certain children would benefit from speech and language therapy but, although their need had been identified, they didn’t meet all the criteria to access the core NHS service.

“As a school, you want to do all you can to give every pupil the best chance of getting the most out of their education and fulfilling their potential.

St Albans

“Obviously, effective communication, both oral and written, is absolutely key to that. So if we feel a pupil needs help with some aspect of speech and language, we want to be able to support them."

“We’d had training in how to make an assessment of need so it was quite frustrating that pupils referred for speech and language therapy because their language skills were holding them back, didn’t meet the criteria.”

Since October 2014, speech and language therapist Tamsin Barrington has visited St Alban’s for one morning every week, as part of the traded services programme, to work with eight pupils of various ages.

“Some of the children had already had support from the ‘core’ speech and language therapy service, some of which is delivered in clinics,” she said.

“The traded services approach is more responsive to the school’s overall needs around speech and language because we can provide all the therapy in an environment familiar to the children and, over time, the therapist becomes a familiar face. So it’s a lot less daunting for them."

“In schools we work with children with a range of speech, language and communication difficulties."

“I love working in schools because you can build those longer term relationships and see the children flourish in their normal learning environments.”

Following the initial success of the programme, St Alban’s has extended its agreement with BCHC and ‘booked’ Tamsin for further speech and language therapy, with the potential to increase the number of pupils she sees."

“I would recommend the traded services approach very highly,” said Anne. “It puts the school firmly in control of the extra support it provides for its pupils and gives us the means of providing the holistic, personalised education we are committed to providing for our pupils.”

Traded services manager Patrick McCormick added: “We introduced the traded services programme to meet demand from schools for supplementary support for pupils whose speech and language needs fall outside the remit of ‘core’ commissioned services.

“More and more schools are seeing the huge difference this makes to their pupils, and we are delighted St Alban’s is among those gaining such value from the service -  a highly successful start to our partnership.”