Julie Jones SENDCO and acting deputy head at Acocks Green primary school has a long and productive relationship with Soundswell. She commissioned the service at her previous school as long ago as 2013 and has continued to make speech and language a priority for the past almost 8 years at Acocks Green.
Schools use their therapists in lots of different ways to meet their needs and priorities. Julie’s therapist Bryony works primarily at tier three (specialist level) and her work is supported by TAs, one of whom undertakes most of the work and is the communication champion.
School have invested in this role: Julie says that it is so important to pick the right person – someone with the interest, enthusiasm and a willingness to develop the right skills. It isn’t a role for everyone.
Acocks Green is no different from many other schools – finances are always stretched so it does help to have someone in authority (and who knows about SLCN) on the senior leadership team so that they can advocate for the support.
Julie also cites consistency as being important. If SLCN is a priority for our setting then we must ensure that, wherever possible, support staff are not diverted to other tasks at the expense of delivering the sessions. The benefit of this is self-evident as staff can see the progress the children make.
This is a great model – to invest in an individual who has the right skills and attributes – there is always a degree of risk. If that person should leave then they would be very difficult to replace at short notice.
However, it’s a risk that Acocks take and, to date, it has paid off with dividends.
Written by: Diana McQueen