By Cherry Hughes, Education Officer, The British Stammering Association.
Cherry Hughes has worked in education as a lecturer, student counsellor, teacher, and Deputy Head of a school; she has been working on successful education projects for the Association for more than ten years; she has also been a Chairman of Governors of a special school and a high school. Cherry contributes to education journals about stammering and is a co-author of a book on stammering for education professionals.
This training resource on stammering is an updated version of the ground-breaking CD-ROM that was produced by the British Stammering Association and sent to English primary schools in 2003. While this resource is not a substitute for advice that is specific to an individual pupil from a speech and language therapist, the BSA hopes that it will provide teachers and school support staff in England with an effective and practical resource for generally supporting stammering pupils in a mainstream primary school setting.
It will also be useful for staff working with children with complex educational needs, including stammering. However, it does not provide specific additional strategies for this group. The resource includes video clips of classroom scenes, collaborative practice with speech and language therapists and meetings with parents - all filmed in a mainstream primary school setting. Children with direct experience of stammering (not actors) are shown talking about their own feelings and experiences. The accompanying printable text provides more detailed information on stammering, strategies for supporting the stammering pupil in school and further options for support.
This resource shows film of the ordinary classroom experiences of a boy who stammers during Years 5 and 6 in a mainstream primary school. All the teachers and support staff use best practice in supporting him, and there are contributions from speech and language therapists and parents.
Stammering is a low incidence, high need speech, language and communication need (SLCN) that usually develops at the pre-school stage, and is most responsive at that time to intervention. By the time pupils who stammer reach years 5 and 6 in the primary school, the difficulties they are experiencing are more firmly entrenched and are increasingly resistant to change. Unlike in pre-school children, fluency may no longer be an attainable goal. At this sensitive pre-adolescent stage, it is even more important that the pupil feels supported by all staff. The primary pupil who stammers is most likely to be a boy, which is why the pronoun 'he' is used throughout.
The busy primary teacher, who may have frequent contact with such a pupil, and needs to quickly check on how best to approach a specific classroom situation, can easily access the relevant information in this resource. As we know that stammering can undermine self-esteem and achievement and if the pupil's needs are neglected, possibly lead to behavioural problems, the time spent going through this could be very cost- effective for all staff.
This resource will also support whole-staff training in SLCN as recommended by the Inclusion Development Programme (IDP), the Bercow Report on the needs of children with SLCN (2008). the Government's 2020 Children and Young Peoples Workforce Strategy (2008), Every child a talker (2008)and the The Rose Report (2009). As Ofsted now inspects the school's capacity to support children with SLCN there is an expectation that schools can deliver this support.
Staff can also access the online assessment and training resource provided by the Communication Trust's Speech, Language and Communication Framework (SLCF).
The BSA considers these initiatives to be very helpful in meeting the needs of pupils who stammer as they support both an identification of individual need and an inclusive culture in schools. This is very reassuring to parents and professionals concerned about stammering.