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Class teacher's perspective

It is quite common for a class teacher to have had no training or experience of a pupil who stammers.  Secondary behaviours connected with stammering, silliness, playing the fool, or withdrawal may be noticed first and the real problem not addressed.  Therefore, it is important that parents do let the teacher know about their child's dysfluency, or give permission for the speech and language therapist to do so.

Teachers need to be consulted about any school visits the therapist may wish to make, and plan with her the classroom observation, so that both professionals can work productively together.  The child should be involved in some discussion. There is really no common professional language between teachers and therapists and it is important that the aims of the visit are shared, and that the therapist works within the boundaries set by the teacher.  It may take some time to build up good working models.

The model of the therapist, as the expert directing the teacher, is not helpful, and both professionals need to collaborate over organising support for the child, either through an IEP, or more informal means.  Parents are a part of this partnership.

Recent initiatives such as online resources such as this and the SCLF, the extension of training opportunities for education staff in SLCN recommended by The Bercow Report (2008), followed up by the Government's 2020 Children and Young Peoples Workforce Strategy (December 2008) and The Rose Report (2009) should make it possible for education staff to receive training in SLCN within their own area. Some universities are now offering joint training for teachers and therapists and this is also helpful.

In the video clip the teacher explains that Matthew is now placed on  'School Action' and this is helpful if additional support is required. She recognises that targets for his speech in an Individual Education Plan will allow him to move forward in speaking in a structured way and the therapist is helping with that.

Parents and IEPs

Sometimes parents worry about what they see as the labelling of their child and need to be reassured that that is not the case, but a policy of flexible and tailored support when needed as here can prevent further problems developing.

Oral targets for the whole class

This is an effective means of developing and assessing pupils' speaking and listening and is supported by the Primary Literacy Strategy. The teacher here will receive support from the therapist to devise these, which is an ideal situation when resources permit it.

Summary

  • Teachers and therapists should liaise over classroom visits and allay any concerns of the child.
  • The visitor should work within classroom boundaries and observe school protocols. The child should feel labelled or embarrassed by the visit.
  • A child who stammers receiving therapy should be placed on  'School Action' Plus and be working to oral targets that may be helpful for all the pupils.

The class teacher describes the discussion with the SLT about targets for Matthew's learning