Initiative to help children be heard

Speech and language therapist Kate Hope with pupils.
Speech and language therapist Kate Hope with pupils.
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A school has launched a new initiative to ensure that children are heard and not just seen.

The Northumberland Church of England Academy (NCEA) has employed its own speech and language therapist (SLT) to work alongside the NHS SLTs to ensure even more pupils can gain access to therapy sessions, vital for removing barriers to learning and improving literacy.

Speech, language or communication needs, or SLCN is often called a ‘hidden difficulty’, which means that instead of communication difficulties people may see children struggling to learn to read, showing poor behaviour, having difficulties learning or socialising with others.

Kate Hope and her team of speech and language teaching assistants work with pupils and staff across the academy, which has campuses in Ashington, Lynemouth and Newbiggin.

Kate said: “If a child can’t speak and express themselves verbally, or understand spoken instructions they are going to have a lot more difficulty reading and writing.

“Serious difficulties are often picked up early on, but many more instances of speech and language delay are not and this can lead to wider issues with their learning.

“By helping to train staff we can make sure that specialist teaching methods can be incorporated into daily activities and we can work alongside the NHS SLTs to provide additional therapy.

“It is a brilliant to see children who at first may find it difficult to express themselves grow in confidence.”

NCEA executive director, Andrew Day, added: “We know how important speech, language and communication skills are.

“We are dedicated to supporting all children to develop these skills and we have got lots of exciting things going on to make sure that we do this.”