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Speech training unlocks children's potential

Published Thursday, 31 October 2013

Over 70 support staff in 31 Enfield primary schools and 24 in Enfield secondary schools, are now trained in skills and strategies that can improve the language and communication of children who would otherwise fall behind at school.

Nationally accredited courses from ELKLAN are being provided by Enfield Council and its health partners at Enfield Community Services.

Latest research suggests that around 50% of children in some areas of Enfield have a language or speech delay which means that they are unable to take an active part in school life without support.

These children are often held back from making expected progress if their communication needs are not supported at school.

Cllr Ayfer Orhan, Enfield Council’s Cabinet Member for Children & Young People said, “We want to help children overcome a significant learning difficulty. I cannot emphasise enough the importance of this training.

“These ten –week courses are now into their fourth year and more primary schools, secondary schools and our special schools are encouraging staff to take them.”

During the course staff learn about the key communication skills: listening and attention; memory, understanding, modifying adult speech; talking, speech impairment and stammering; and linking speech and language to reading and writing.

They learn how to use practical ideas to promote the communication skills of all children, but particularly those with speech and language difficulties.

Staff learn how to use this knowledge in the classroom to support children with communication difficulties so that they can catch up and open up the opportunities they have a right to enjoy.

The courses can be described as the ‘gold standard’ with two tutors at each session; one a speech and language therapist to analyse communication difficulties and demonstrate how they can be helped; and another specialist teacher who shows how this can be applied in the classroom.

Judy Sleat, speech and language lead from Enfield Community Services and Judith Gordon, Enfield Council’s primary school special educational needs consultant, pointed out the advantages of the course.

They said, “Children with delayed language can often exhibit behaviour that is mistaken for rudeness or lacking in attention – when the root of the problem is that they do not understand what is being said to them. They cannot make sense of class instructions and school becomes an unhappy and confusing place.

“The courses provide the staff training that unlocks each child’s potential. Acquiring language is the foundation of thought and communication and without it children are truly bewildered at school affecting their ability to learn, to form relationships and to enjoy life.”

Andrew Fraser, Director of Schools and Children’s Services added, “Schools that have invested in sending their staff on ELKLAN training are gaining very skilled members of their workforce.”

Staff who have completed the course are positive and keen to recommend them.

Melanie Wooderson from St John and St James primary school said, “I am now able to recognise children in the classroom who need particular strategies and I can see those children making real improvements.”

Dawn Morrall from Lift off Language who work in a number of schools added, “Through this course I have planned new ways to sustain the children’s interests and their learning and understanding is improving their behaviour.”

Debbie Storey from Capel Manor primary school said, “It’s the best and most useful course I have ever been on. It helped me to understand what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. It’s had a powerful effect on me and the children who have come on immensely.

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