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How to support children with speech, language and communication needs

This guidance is for education providers.

Children with suspected speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) should be supported using a graduated approach:

  • Assess
  • Plan
  • Do
  • Review

Cycle one of the graduated approach

The following school-based interventions and strategies can be used to support children with SLCN. These can be undertaken without the need for a speech and language therapy (SLT) assessment:

  • Talkboost 
  • Elklan strategies 
  • Word Aware 

Find speech and language resources.

The speech and language therapy (SLT) service is open to all children. It is not just for children who have an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan.

If school-based interventions and strategies are tried through cycle one of the graduated approach and progress is not made, a referral for speech and language therapy advice or assessment may be appropriate. Find out more about children’s speech, language and communication support.

It is much clearer after using interventions and strategies, whether a referral is needed. Information about how the interventions and strategies have worked, enables therapists to provide more targeted advice and assessment, if appropriate. 

Cycle two of the graduated approach

Any speech and language therapy advice or intervention, can be implemented through cycle two of the graduated approach.

If a child requires more direct work than the SLT service can deliver under its core offer, they will let you know. You can then consider whether additional resources are needed. This can then be discussed with us.

Important information re: EHC needs assessment referral

It is important not to leave SLT referrals until the point of an EHC plan referral. If you do, the needs assessment will take much longer because there is additional paperwork to complete.

The impact of lots of SLT referrals as part of an EHC plan needs assessment, is that there is less capacity to see children across the whole service. 

If an EHC plan referral is made for a child who has already been assessed by the SLT service, there will already be information to support the assessment.

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