Using visual support for language and learning in children with SLCN: A training programme for teachers and teaching assistants
The majority of children with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) are educated in mainstream classrooms where they can have difficulties with the language needed for learning. Although visual support in the classroom can help to scaffold children’s learning and socialization, many teachers feel ill equipped to use this. They do not feel confident enough to identify, differentiate and support children with SLCN. This article presents a training and mentoring programme delivered to teachers and teaching assistants (TAs) in seven mainstream primary schools. It involved a group training session outlining the nature and identification of children with SLCN, impact of SLCN on accessing the curriculum, and visual strategies and techniques for supporting learning. This was followed up by six, weekly mentoring sessions in the classroom with a speech and language therapist (SLT) or SLT assistant (SLTA). Pre- and post-training questionnaires and classroom observations were used to examine the impact of this programme. The observations were repeated after one school term to establish if the use of visual support had been maintained. Although there were differences between the teachers and TAs pre-training, they both increased their use of visual support strategies in the classroom post-training and maintained this one term after the training had ceased. The method and practical implications of this study are discussed.