How to identify Speech, Language and Communication Needs in your school
Updated: Aug 31
I’ve been working as a Speech and Language Therapist in schools for well over a decade and there are lots of expectations for teachers and schools to identify and support the SLCN (speech, language and communication needs) of the children in their settings.
On average, every primary school class in the UK will have 2 or 3 pupils with SLCN. 1
This statistic was was before the pandemic…
Some of these needs are linked to other conditions like autism, cerebral palsy, learning disability, etc, but for a number of these children there is no underlying condition.
Here is a list of Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN) red flags that Teachers and Support Staff can look out for in the classroom.
The child may:
🚩 Have poor attention skills
🚩 Rely on routines and copying others
🚩 Only follow the last part of instructions
🚩 Lack awareness of what is going on around them
🚩 Show frustration and challenging behaviour
🚩 Have immature social skills
🚩 Behave or sounds like a younger child
🚩 Struggle to listen well during input teaching
🚩 Miss what’s said to them
🚩 Know and use fewer words in their talking or writing
🚩 Talk (and write) in shorter sentences
🚩 Be struggling academically, in the lower ability groups
It’s not always easy for Teachers to be able to spot difficulties or know how to support their pupils, especially when conditions and difficulties vary so much.
Here’s a list of all of the resources and courses I’ve made to help you to support the children you work with who have SLCN.
⭐️ My online Course in Speech Language and Communication Neeeds.
A pre-recorded, comprehensive online course which is available straight away and able to be re-visited as often as you like. Includes the SLCN Checklist and SLCN eBook (below) as BONUS features, as well as 9 downloadable PDFs:
7 with strategies for each area of SLCN,
1 with references and links for further information,
1 with a list of charities and organisations for you to keep in your resources bank.
⭐️ SLCN Checklist
An easy to use 4-page checklist covering 7 different areas of SLCN. Questions within each section will help you to highlight areas where the child has the most need and where school-based interventions or onward referral are required.
The checklist can also be used as a data collection and monitoring tool for termly reviews.
Here's a video with more information about the Checklist:
⭐️ SLCN eBook
Provided as a digital download, this useful tool can be used to upskill staff, from Teaching Assistants new to the role through to more experienced Teachers looking to top up their knowledge and skills.
⭐️ FREE Staff Skills Audit Tool An audit tool to collect information on the SLCN skills and knowledge of your team. It can be used as an indicator for training or resources needed, or for staff to be able to record evidence for their own CPD, and to inform Governors and Inspectors.
⭐️ FREE 5 Ways to be more speech & language friendly in school
A printable ticksheet with 5 different areas to focus on to help support the children in your setting.
⭐️ My Facebook page is full of information and posts, as well as supportive environment where we can support each other and share best practise.
There's plenty more courses, resources freebies and informative blog articles on my website.
1 Dockrell et al, 2012, Understanding speech language and communication needs: Profiles of need and provision (2012), Dept. of Education, https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/557156/DFE-RR247-BCRP4.pdf