Language and Social Exclusion
In November 2007 East Riding of Yorkshire Council Inclusion practitioners were invited to speak at the ICAN national conference in London.
The theme was of the conference was Language and Social Exclusion.
The Renfrew Bus Story Test - the child is given a picture book and the adult reads the story and then the child then uses the pictures to retell the story.
Teaching Talking in Year 7
This article describes some of the work of the Teaching Children Talking Project, an East Riding of Yorkshire LA initiative, and
how one secondary school has developed this further to fit their students' needs.
Background to the Project
The project began in 2001 in response to the report of the Working Group into the provision of Speech and Language Therapy
Services to children.
This report recommended the setting up of collaborative projects between education and health services.
LEAs were invited to bid for funding to set up such projects and the E. Riding of Yorkshire was successful.
The project has been so successful that the LA and the local Therapy Services partnership continue to fund it.
The project workers (one full time teacher and two part time SLTs) decided after the first year that the main part of the
project would focus on training staff in the Foundation Stage in order to have the maximum impact on children’s language.
First a training course was written for practitioners.
The project workers were advised to create a 2-year course so that the programme would be fully established in the schools
before they moved on. They applied for accreditation with York St. John University and were successful.
The students gain 40 credits at Level 1 over the 2 modules.
Since 2001 the project workers have trained students in over 60 primary schools.
They focus on no more than 12 schools each year so that they can meet with them every 6 weeks and visit
them in schools to model sessions and watch their progress.
One student from each school is fully funded to complete the 2-year course.
They must complete a portfolio of work as they learn how to use the programme in the first year.
The following year they complete a second portfolio showing evidence of implementing the programme over the second year.
Year 7 and Beyond
Emily, a teaching assistant in one of the East Riding secondary schools, is currently completing the second year of her
training with the project.
So how did working with Emily in her secondary school come about?
For the first year of the project a partnership of schools – a secondary and its 12 feeder schools was chosen for the pilot.
Four TAs were trained in the secondary and the programme, Teaching Talking was used in Y7 although it was written for children
up to 11 years of age.
Because it looks at the stage children are at rather than their age, it was found to apply to a group of Y7 students.
When the school's SENCo moved to another school, she asked if that school might be included in the training course and we agreed.
Emily enrolled with us in 2006.
The Teaching Talking programme involves the students and teachers screening the whole class at the beginning of the year in
order to identify those children in need of support.
They look at four key areas that support language development, one of which is 'play and social development'.
They are then given general strategies to support the children in class and ideas for small group work.
Emily developed Teaching Talking in a way that is really benefiting the students in her school.
Emily works in a large school with over 1500 students from a wide range of backgrounds.
She began working there as a level 2 Teaching Assistant in 2005 in the Learning Support department, where she currently supports
children with special needs in all areas of the curriculum.
Most of her time is spent in the classroom supporting children.
As she is particularly interested in working with children with emotional and behavioural difficulties, this seemed like an
ideal opportunity to gain an additional qualification while at the same time being able to develop new ways of working with
children in the school who, because of their communication and social difficulties, were running the risk of social exclusion.
“Children can arrive at secondary school with a variety of speech and language difficulties.
“Often these needs have been supported in primary school, through language or social skills groups.
“When they come to us, these difficulties do not disappear, and behaviours resulting from these communication needs can
become even more of a problem in secondary, due to the nature of the environment and the demands of the curriculum.
“My SENCo had already identified the need for an intervention programme to address these needs.”
Although Teaching Talking was written for children from nursery to 11 years of age, Ann Locke stressed that we should
look at children’s stage of development rather than chronological age.
Emily already knew from the children’s previous academic records that their achievement was below what would be expected for
their chronological age, and the initial screening process confirmed that many of the children were operating at a level
that would be expected in a primary school.
It was therefore decided that Teaching Talking was what these children needed.
The SENCo was able to suggest the children she thought would benefit from the Teaching Talking project as she had visited many
of them in their primary schools before transition.
The students’ own IEP s were a very useful tool in the first instance of flagging up any potential students who had obvious
problems with language and literacy. Emily then completed the Primary Screening sheet from the handbook.
This looks at children’s development in terms of listening and attention, speech skills, understanding and use of spoken
language, and social communication skills.
In September 2006 she had already begun supporting some of the year 7 pupils but in order to do this preliminary screen she
needed to actively observe them in lessons.
When she started the screening, she had doubts about how she would manage this additional paper work.
“I couldn’t see how I could find the time to observe the students when they were moving from lesson to lesson.
“I solved this by making their form teachers and subject teachers aware of what I was doing and was then able to take into account
their observations of the students as well as my own.
“We found that many of our special needs students displayed the behaviours listed on the screening sheet, which confirmed our
initial concerns about their language development.”
Each student’s needs were then assessed in more detail, using the maturing language record.
This looks at those behaviours that support language development, such as social emotional development, intellectual
development, listening and understanding, and expressive skills.
Behaviours are arranged developmentally and it covers behaviours that are expected to develop between the ages of 5 and 11.
Many of the students she observed had a low baseline, particularly in social and emotional development.
“It was apparent that a group which primarily focussed on social and communication skills was going to be the best route for us
to take and the most beneficial when we looked at the needs of the students we had identified from the primary screening.
“Although we had identified the children’s needs, we were then at a loss as to what to do to address these.”
The charts within the programme provided her with the objectives she needed to plan group work for the students.
However it wasn’t enough and she realised she needed some resources to make the sessions interesting for the students.
After looking at what was available, she selected the following resources to get started - "TalkingAbout Secondary School" from
Black Sheep Press , and the Socially Speaking book and game.
“Last year, the students missed half an hour of either one or two sessions of their timetable to come to the Teaching Children
Talking group each week.
“I planned the sessions, wrote a lesson plan with specific targets and made resources and games.
“I observed the students throughout the week in their lessons and wrote up observations.
“This helped me to target activities appropriately.
“The first session of the week focused on social skills and the second session focused in on specific language needs such as
explaining, describing or questioning.
“In the last half term of last year I began some individual sessions working with 2 students from Year 10 who have specific
communication and behavioural difficulties.
“In September 2007 I was asked to do the same for a student in Year 9 whose behaviour was causing him a lot of difficulties
“I cover the same general topics as the younger groups but adapt it for the needs of the older students.
“One of the male TAs in the team works along side me in all the individual sessions, I have found him to be invaluable as he
often understands the boys in a different way and the boys relate to him more easily.
“I always make the sessions fun, with lots of variety.
“We often use role-play as a way of illustrating what we are talking about.
“I place a high priority on relationship building and trust, which can be followed up during the week.
“I always leave time for a general chat, such as what has happened during the week or the holidays at the beginning of each session.
“These parts of the session are very important for relationship building and gaining confidence.
“The children really benefit and enjoy the relationship building, which naturally occurs between staff and students and between
the children themselves.
“This builds their confidence and allows them to feel a little more secure in lessons.
“I do lots of different activities including board games, word games and role-play and use of the SEAL pictures.”
As part of her portfolio, Emily studied the children in her group, one of whom was Child A.
“Child A is in year 7.
“She attended a local junior school.
“She lives with her mum and sister and lots of pets!
“She is a quiet, gentle and well-mannered girl, who enjoys the company of
others, but she can lack confidence and needs lots of encouragement.
“She has been on the SEN register at School Action level since she was in year 1, and her IEP states 'slow progress in literacy
and numeracy' as the main areas of concern.
“The first statement of concern about Child A (when she was 5), records 'speech problems' and a lack of progress in
the '3 Rs', plus an inability to settle and complete a simple task.
“It records that her parents understood she has some difficulty and were awaiting speech and language therapy.
“She had problems with hearing in one ear.
“Her IEPs in junior school continued to record general slow progress, lack of confidence, and concern regarding her communication.
“They were concerned about her understanding of number concepts which seemed to be very weak.
“Other issues raised at the time were friendships and her fear of being alone, her lack of confidence and self esteem and need
for continual encouragement.”
“Child B is a very sweet, quiet girl who suffers from a severe lack of confidence especially in whole class situations.
“I support her in maths and have been able to observe her in many of her lessons.”
“Child C has also been in the group from the beginning.
He is a super boy and great fun and he is on the autistic spectrum.
When he first joined the group he was getting into trouble with teachers, being removed from lessons and generally struggling
to fit in at school.”
Child Studies Sessions
“My main objective was originally to work on social and communication skills with the students.
“This would enable them to have not only a more effective and rewarding learning experience in the classroom, but also in other
areas of their lives.
“Taking part in small group activities once or twice a week gives them a safe environment in which to grow in confidence
with adults and each other.
“I encourage the children to express themselves verbally, and physically particularly through facial expression.
“We talk through situations that may happen in school, out and about, at home and in other social situations, to help the
students to be more aware and show them how to react in these common scenarios.
“We do this in lots of different ways, but always making sure there is lots of talking involved.
“I look for opportunities for the children to extend their describing and explaining skills, and also develop their
understanding and use of questions.”
“Socially Speaking is a complete programme focussing on social and communication skills.
“It is written with a Primary focus, however, it is still really useful and it includes a board game which the children and I
have a lot of fun playing.
“TalkingAbout Secondary School is a set of laminated pictures that show situations that may occur in school.
“The group can then discuss what the appropriate responses would be in these situations.
“The book Understanding and Using Spoken Language is a bank of games and activities to develop children’s language skills and
provide teachers with ideas for small group work.
“I based my second sessions on activities from this book.
“We like to play lots of other games including Monopoly, Cluedo, Scrabble, Maths Snap, and other games we make up ourselves.
“Playing these games is fun for the children and helps them develop their turn taking skills, eye contact, negotiation skills
and confidence in talking to each other.”
“During last year, I noticed significant changes in the students in my Teaching Talking group.
Child A has so much more confidence and self esteem.
“She is not afraid to have a go at new things and is very comfortable around the TAs.
“She has learnt all about good listening skills and remembers a lot of information when we have a review.
“She has become more relaxed in the group, and happy to join in.
“We have been able to discuss matters such as bullying and Internet safety.
“In lessons she is far more independent and likes to get on without too much support.
“She is growing in confidence all the time and she and I are very happy with her progress.
“Child B was extremely shy and withdrawn when I first met her.
“She had very little confidence or self esteem.
“She has now come out of her shell a lot and I see her interact with classmates more.
“She is more confident in small group situations and in pair work.
“She forms very good relationships with familiar adults and peers.
“I still feel she has some way to go, but her progress so far has been really pleasing.
“Child C has come on in leaps and bounds. When he first arrived he was very awkward.
“He had little or no eye contact, and sat on his chair fidgeting.
“He was quite shy and reluctant to join in conversations.
“Now he is bouncy, chatty, funny and very happy to join in.
“He really enjoys the sessions, especially the games.
“He makes eye contact, sits better, understands turn taking (not always when he has a lot to tell us!) and enjoys a joke.
“He is not getting into trouble with teachers for inappropriate behaviour and we get many great comments back from the TAs about
Plans for the Future
“In the second year of Teaching Children Talking I already have 2 small groups of Year 8 students and 2 small groups of Year 7
“Plus the older students I work with individually.
“As more staff get to know about TCT, I hope to receive referrals as not all the students who could benefit for TCT are immediately
obvious, especially in a school of 1500 students.
“At the moment two other TAs help in the sessions and I have this year included the whole team in the screening of year 7 students
in order to cover more children more thoroughly than I could hope to do by myself.”
Report and Presentation
Please click below on the title of the document to download a complete printable version of the information on this page.
Below is the MS PowerPoint presentation created for the ICAN national conference held in November 2007.
It is also available to download as a PDF file.
Teaching Talking in Year 7 - A Practice based presentation about a project to develop the language skills of children in secondary schools.
For further information please contact:
Kirsty Chadwick, Inclusion Coordinator