The form tutor/Head of Year and the special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO) should have listened to your concerns and explained how your child will be helped. The first step might be to use the routine differentiation. This simply means that some simple strategies from BSA:Education and Information about stammering for staff in this resource will be tried, and contact will be kept with you to see whether these are helping sufficiently. This may be called Wave 1 intervention. If the SENCO considers that this support is not sufficient staff may agree with you that more support be given, perhaps additional time for instance by his form tutor or a Learning Support assistant to talk with him. This may be called Wave 2 intervention, and will continue to be low key within the school. The BSA knows that one-to-one support for a time can be very helpful for a child who stammers at any age, and when that has finished the he should still feel that he could approach that colleague whenever he has a worry.
If it seems that more help is needed, then the SENCO will discuss with you ways to give more support and ask to place your child on the first formal stage of support 'School Action'. He would then be placed on the special educational needs register. This can be very helpful for children who stammer as it ensures that your child's speaking needs are monitored and an effort made by all the staff to use good practice. Also it is likely to include an Individual Education Plan (IEP). The term used to explain this may be different but the plan will be discussed with you and give your child small steps to take in his speaking in class and at home.
Individual Education Plan will:
- Set three or four small targets for your child, these should be simple and written like this 'by the end of term John will be able to'. These steps should give small goals for your child's speaking: it could be talking about an event to a member of staff, then moving on to talking at the same time as a 'buddy' in a class discussion, and moving on to talking independently. There might be a target for you to work on at home.
- Explain the ways of teaching to be used, for example there should be more opportunities for your child to have positive speaking opportunities, such as speaking in chorus with other children, or answering questions with a conversation 'buddy'. Staff should be following good practice in their own speaking so that they are simplifying instructions, and pausing more frequently.
- Describe the help to be put in place, for example some one to one support from an adult in the setting.
- State when the plan is to be reviewed.
- Explain how the teacher will decide if the help has been successful or whether it is no longer needed.
These targets should be talked about with you and your child regularly. After a term if they do not seem to be helping, your child should be assessed for the next stage below.
School Action Plus
If there is already a therapist involved, because you have made a referral, and your child is receiving therapy, then the school should have reviewed him for possible placement on 'School Action Plus' already.
However, the BSA knows from parents that this has not always happened. It is advisable for the child to be placed on School Action Plus if therapy is in place, as support can be provided and monitored through the Individual Education Plan (IEP) to which the therapist can contribute. When the therapy has been completed then parents can discuss with the teacher removing the child from this.
If your child is not receiving therapy and, after your discussion with the SENCO your child is considered for this referral, the school may decide to do an assessment to see if in their view your child needs support from this outside agency. This assessment should collect information about your child's speech from all the staff in the school who have contact with your child. You should also contribute to this, and you may also want to pass on any observations from any other adults in the family who have regular contact with your child, such as grandparents.
If a referral is thought to be necessary, it will be made with your consent to a speech and language therapist. When this happens your child should be placed on 'School Action Plus' and provided with an Individual Education Plan (IEP). The school may be able to involve the therapist in planning the targets for your child's IEP, and the therapist may also decide to involve staff in delivering therapy goals.
All this must be explained to you. If you have any questions at all, then it may be helpful to write them down for any meetings that you have with the school and/or the therapist.
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Text for this page: What happens when the SEN Code supports your child?
Text for this whole section: How to get support for learning for your secondary school child who stammers