East Sussex County Council worked with a group of parents of pupils with Down syndrome to ?extend resourcing and support at Ringmer Academy in East Sussex.
Symbol was able to provide not only the specialist speech and language therapy addressing the specific needs of pupils with Down syndrome sought by the parent group, but also linked with a Symbol initiative in conjunction with the Down’s Syndrome Association, training key staff to run speech and language therapy groups for pupils with Down syndrome.
Additionally, the service coordinated the development of IEPs while the school sought funding ?for, recruited and established additional specialist teacher input.
Alongside providing the specialist Down syndrome specific services that Symbol is renowned for, Symbol also provided speech and language therapy for a number of other pupils flagged up by the school whose needs were not being met through existing speech and language therapy services to the school.
‘What would we do without this service!’- Assistant SENCO
‘Cost Effective and Innovative’
Hedgewood School sought to put in place speech and language therapy provision specified on pupils’ statements, that was not available from local NHS provision. Armed with a modest budget, the headteacher contacted Symbol UK.
When Symbol carried out initial assessment with pupils, it was evident that ongoing intervention was required to meet the pupils’ needs.
The challenge was to identify and deliver a suitable service model, one that would meet the needs of pupils, support the staff team and come within the school`s budget.
Our experienced and skilled professional therapy team were able to offer a solution by negotiating the up skilling of a Higher Level Teaching Assistant.
Over two terms, the therapist modelled and demonstrated an assessment procedure and target setting, and provided resources to set up groups and individual work as well as providing training for the school staff team. As a result the school was able to meet the needs of pupils.
‘Consistent and Responsive’
During the late 1990s Bromley, Bexley and Greenwich Community Learning Disability Teams (CLDTs) experienced difficulties in recruiting and retaining a specialist Speech & Language Therapy service, to manage and support their complex communication and dysphagia caseloads.
Managed as one large overall team, Symbol UK were able to provide each CLDT with a high quality service, which included specialist dysphagia and AAC advice. Speech and language therapy staff were an integrated part of multidisciplinary working in the NHS structures of the 3 localities.
While services in Greenwich and Bexley were taken into the management of Oxleas NHS Trust, the SLT team from Symbol provided continuous service for over 10 years, until Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust eventually reconfigured to take over the management of the SLT provision (April 2011).
Symbol services are frequently long standing provisions. Over the years, service needs changed, budgets were amended, and staffing requirements fluctuated. Symbol maintains professional, high quality service to meet the needs of our service users, their families and support staff.
‘Developing services to meet specific need’
Ingfield Manor School had an excellent speech & language therapy service focusing on communication. The increasing complexity of pupils’ disabilities with each intake urgently demanded extension of the speech and language therapy service to manage complex eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties (dysphagia).
Symbol combined meeting the needs of the pupils, with staff training and development to with the speech and language therapy team, and the wider therapy and educational teams. This managed clinical need while evolving and developing services within the school.
Symbol assisted the school in putting together a robust dysphagia policy with a risk management strategy, alongside developing crucial models for working with families dealing with the complex emotional issues linked to dysphagia.
Several years on, initial regular weekly input from Symbol has been superseded by three dysphagia trained speech & Language therapists at the school, supported by a clinical expert from Symbol on a consultancy basis, who provides: specialist clinical supervision to the Speech & Language Therapy team; support to manage complex cases; specialist clinics; and input to training programmes.
Mainstream School Cluster Project
In November 2009 a Mainstream School Cluster had a small amount of money that they were keen to spend on a short term speech, language and communication project. They wished this to supplement and complement input from local services.
The brief was:
- To work in collaboration with a Personal Education Plan Head and representatives from the Cluster schools.
- To have an agreed plan ready to implement by January 2010.
- To train Teaching Assistants and leave schools with practical skills and resources, that were, sustainable after the end of the project.
- To address whole school requirements and children with delayed language attainments as well as those with more specific and significant speech, language and communication needs.
Although preparation and planning time was short, Symbol were able to pool existing resources and gather a skilled staff mix that included:
- 2 therapists experienced in mainstream work providing regular hands on input.
- 1 Elklan tutor (speech and language therapist) to run an accredited Elklan course.
- 1 Senior Speech and Language Therapy Assistant to regularly model group programmes.
- A number of packages and programmes including some specifically tailored to the requirements of the Cluster.
- Elklan training for up to two staff members from 17 schools
- Establishment of a network meeting for Teaching Assistants to promote sustainability beyond the end of the project.
- A legacy of language group programmes stored with schools
- Opportunities to observe, take part and be mentored in running language groups
The project was due to end in the Summer of 2010 but a 6 month extension was funded. Later, due to successful outcomes and feedback, more monies were offered by the Cluster to extend to a further 13 schools and into the following year. The project is now in its 3rd year and sustainability appears ensured with the majority of schools continuing to run groups on their own or to use activities and resources from the programmes, suited to their specific needs. In addition, the established network of Teaching Assistants meet several times a year to share activity and resource ideas.
The Symbol ethos can mean that from little acorns, fairly mighty oaks grow!
A local authority special school for primary aged children initially commissioned a range of short term input:
- A review of need
- Reporting of need with recommendations as to service provision options
- Assessment and integrated target setting for key pupils
- Delivery of a training programme for the Teaching Assistant team on core skills in supporting speech, language & communication needs
Initial part time weekly input from one therapist was augmented with the secondment of a Teaching Assistant to extend provision, working as a speech and language therapy assistant with CPD through the Symbol Support Team Competency model. Later a further part time therapist was recruited. With support from Symbol’s network of specialist therapists, the service has achieved:-
- Provision of a school wide ‘Communication Audit’, with recommendations for inclusion as part of the whole school development plan
- Development of a school wide Communication Policy
- Cross school links with the local secondary special school to support transition
- Multi professional working with Occupational Therapy on sensory needs
- Ongoing training and support programmes for school staff, including ‘surgeries’
- Establishment of links with parents through coffee mornings, lo-tech AAC resource making sessions, home visits
- Input to tribunals.