Speaking out

6th July 2001 at 01:00

INCLUSION FOR CHILDREN WITH SPEECH AND LANGUAGE IMPAIRMENTS - Accessing the Curriculum and Promoting Personal and Social Development. By Kate Ripley, Jenny Barrett and Pam Fleming. David Fulton pound;15. TES Direct pound;14.50

DEVELOPING BASELINE COMMUNICATION SKILLS. By Catherine Delamain and Jill Spring. Speechmark pound;29.95. TES Direct pound;24.95

Inclusion for children with Speech and Language Impairments focuses on how professionals can promote the learning and social inclusion of pupils with these difficulties in mainstream placements. Written by educational psychologists and a speech and language therapist, it starts with a concise overview of language development and moves on to describe the challenges likely to be experienced by such pupils at key stages 1 to 4.

The extra dimension offered is that the problems identified are linked to practical solutions, set out as class-based strategies or general teaching tips. These ideas are not restricted to Speaking and Listening, as in some texts, and are applied to a range ofcurriculum subjects - science, history, geography, literacy and numeracy.

The section on numeracy is particularly valuable. It clearly maps the significant barriers to learning posed by the structure and content of the numeracy strategy and advises on securing basic concept knowledge, dealing with the challenges of mental maths, and more. Other useful sections include those covering oral and reading comprehension, promoting working in groups and learning new vocabulary.

One book cannot be expected to cover all areas of a very complex subject. This one provides practical guidance to teachers - and therapists - in dealing with the barriers facing these pupils. It should become a standard shared text for education and health staff who support this group of pupils.

Developing Baseline Communication Skills is a teaching resource linked to the baseline assessments and targets of two areas of the foundation stage curriculum: personal and social development and communication, language and literacy.

It offers 200 activities, linked to the four levels setting out the baseline assessmentcriteria, to help staff identify starting points for targeted support work. They can be easily applied to regular group work, which will appeal to pre-school and school staff looking for practical resources. The curriculum links and focus on group work also mean the materials provide a valuable collaborative opportunity for speech and language therapists, although the authors make it clear that the resource is not appropriate for children with significant speech and language difficulties.

Despite a number of tips and developmentally-related advice, the general acceptance of assessment criteria and curriculum targets leads to some very high expectations of children - even of those who do not have speech and language difficulties. A number of the phonological awareness and reading writing skills targets, in particular, are rather challenging.

Education staff working closely with therapist colleagues should ensure selective use and differentiation of activities where required.

This valuable resource represents an important element in the development of truly inclusive support for children at the foundation stage and I recommend it to all education and health service staff who work with these children.

Andrew Burnett is chief speech and language therapist (Education) with Plymouth Primary Care Trust

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