The British Stammering Association and our Scottish Branch, the British Stammering Association Scotland, hope that this will provide Scottish teachers and school support staff with effective and practical strategies for supporting pupils who stammer in a mainstream secondary school setting.
It provides accessible and simple strategies for staff to support a pupil who stammers. It is an updated version of the ground-breaking CD-ROM that was produced by the BSA and sent to secondary schools and speech and language therapy departments in Scotland in 2006.
The busy secondary teacher, who may have infrequent 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.
This resource 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. It includes video clips of classroom scenes, collaborative practice with speech and language therapists and meetings with parents - all filmed in a mainstream Scottish secondary school setting. Pupils 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. As more boys than girls stammer by the secondary school stage, the convention of using the pronoun ‘he’ to refer to the pupil who stammers is used throughout.
This resource is not a substitute for advice from a speech and language therapist to whom a referral should always be made when a child’s speech is causing concern.
We know that stammering can undermine self-esteem and achievement and, if the pupil’s needs are neglected, possibly lead to behavioural problems so the time spent going through this resource could be very cost effective for all staff.
Stammering usually develops at the preschool stage and is most responsive at that time to intervention. By the time pupils who stammer reach secondary school, the difficulties they are experiencing are more firmly entrenched and may be increasingly resistant to change. Fluency may not be an attainable goal. At this sensitive adolescent stage, it is even more important that the pupil feels supported by all staff.
In the video clip, Stuart Maxwell, the Headteacher of Eastwood High School, where most of the filming took place, advocates support for children who stammer within the policy for the inclusive school as the BSA favours. However, the BSA does recognise that it is not always possible for the secondary teacher who is subject-focused to respond to the speech needs of the pupil who stammers, particularly in an inclusive classroom where many other individual needs are presenting.
Furthermore, subject timetables may present a subject teacher with as many as 200 pupils per week over a short period and it could be impossible to always remember individual speech needs. Equally, elsewhere in the school such an individual response to a pupil who stammers may not be feasible when other duties are pressing.
For these reasons, the BSA advises that all staff in the school should receive some basic training in recognising SLCN, including stammering and have some simple strategies in place for their response, particularly when a spontaneous approach is made by a pupil.
It is worthwhile approaching the local speech and language therapy department to see whether they could support this training. Such communication-friendly polices could also apply to parents, as when a child has a communication difficulty, including stammering, there is a possibility that a parent may share it.
The BSA believes that it is important that all pupils recognise and understand this, so inappropriate interruptions of the teacher by pupils and unsolicited questions, unless of an urgent nature, are not made by any of them. Pupils who stammer, particularly the younger ones in S1, may try to speak out when they feel able to do so.
They could have some difficulty at first with remembering the talking and listening rules and reinforcement of these standards may be necessary for them and other children in the class. However, once it is clear that these are the expectations for all pupils, children who stammer and their parents will be reassured that all children are following the same standards.
Stuart Maxwell, the Headteacher, places support for pupils who stammer within the context of the inclusive school.