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Checklist for secondary schools

The following features would demonstrate good practice for supporting pupils with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) in a secondary school.  This checklist can be used to audit the classrooms that a pupil uses.

  • I make good use of visual supports such as gesture, drawings, prompt cards (for example a reminder to put up your hand before calling out), photos and, where appropriate, symbols/signs. These can all be used to make aspects of the day clearer including the timetable, what a pupil will be learning in that lesson, expected behaviour, key vocabulary and information, the sequence of steps within an activity, names of equipment and where it is stored, etc.
  • The teaching assistant has necessary skills and knowledge to work with a pupil with SLCN, because they have received some training about how to support pupils with this type of difficulty.
  • I make sure pupils with SLCN are seated near the teacher. The teacher speaks facing the class and stops speaking when writing on the whiteboard. Information is left on the whiteboard long enough for pupils to read and understand
  • All pupils are encouraged to ask questions and seek clarification.
  • The visual supports that a pupil finds useful are used consistently by different teachers in different classes – so we use similar approaches or strategies in different lessons.
  • Information is presented in a variety of ways.  We make sure teaching incorporates use of visual and tactile approaches including use of real objects , practical activities, pictures, video to ensure pupils understand.
  • Teachers do not talk for the whole lesson, and avoid using double meanings, idioms like ‘pull your socks up’ and long complicated sentences. If we use difficult words or sentences, these are explained.
  • Specific words, relating to each subject, are planned in advance of the lesson. This means they can be taught before the lesson to pupils with SLCN if needed and there is repetition and lots of opportunity to hear new vocabulary.
  • We teach support for study skills like taking notes, answering questions in exams, revising, organising your homework. This might include support for written work, e.g. a framework for writing a plan for longer pieces of writing (a narrative framework).
  • There are systems to ensure that information is shared efficiently about pupils with SLCN to ease transition to another class/school. For example use of a communication passport which is a way of recording important information about a pupil, their particular strengths and communication needs and ways of supporting these.
  • There is flexibility within the curriculum for pupils requiring individualised programmes, such as flexible timetabling, study time, homework club, small group work, individualised work
  • School ‘rules’ and ‘charters’, etc are written in simple, symbol or visual photos form so that pupils can understand them.
  • Quiet space is available for time-out or individual study.
  • We have systems to help pupils to mix socially, e.g. lunchtime clubs, organised activities, buddying peer mentoring, social skills groups, use of a quiet area
  • The school is laid out well so pupils with SLCN can find their way round easily, for example subject rooms are colour-coded.
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