We believe that every student has a right to develop their communication skills to the best of their ability, using the most appropriate methods for them (be it speech, sign language, picture exchange, communication aids or a combination of these). We aim to prepare them to communicate effectively in society.

We prioritise communication throughout the college, and aim to ensure staff are competent in both British Sign Language (BSL) and in English. Where relevant, students are encouraged to use their personal hearing aids and cochlear implants throughout the day to enable them to communicate more effectively.

Speech and Language Intervention

Speech and language therapy may be delivered on an individual basis or in small groups depending on the need of each student.  Therapeutic input is also provided within the classroom, to ensure teaching and support staff are confident in using recommended strategies.  Staff also receive training from the speech and language therapy team. 

In addition to direct therapy, we also provide indirect input to all students. This includes assessment of all new students as they enter college to ascertain their communication needs and support required. We then write reports based on these assessments to pass on important information to teaching staff. We also meet regularly with key staff members to discuss appropriate communication targets to be embedded across the curriculum, and we adapt these targets as and when necessary. Staff are encouraged to contact us with any comment or concern regarding a student’s communication so we can provide direct or indirect support as needed.

Communication targets focus on improving various skills in order to optimise communication potential. These skills include:

  • Attention
  • Hearing & listening
  • Lip-reading
  • Understanding and use of spoken/written English
  • Use of voice and developing speech skills
  • Establishing and developing the use of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) systems
  • Conversation skills
  • Functional communication skills to get by in society and to improve confidence when communicating with non-BSL users.

Student needs are assessed through formal testing, observations and interactions with them, and liaison with relevant staff members and parents. The most appropriate means of supporting and developing their communication is then decided upon.  Many factors are taken into account when setting individual therapy targets, including current communication levels, motivation and potential to improve, and any additional needs to be considered.

We use some of the following approaches with our students to encourage optimal functional communication based on their individual needs:

  • Intensive Interaction – teaches communication at its most basic level (eye contact, turn-taking etc) for those who have not yet established this.
    (link to http://www.intensiveinteraction.co.uk/ )


  • PECS – A visual communication (picture exchange) system used mainly for individuals on the Autistic Spectrum
    (link to http://www.pecs-unitedkingdom.com/ )
  • SMILE Therapy – teaches how to solve everyday communication problems using the most effective technique for each individual student (e.g. how to order food in a cafe)
    (link to http://www.smiletherapytraining.com/)


  • LEGO Therapy – teaches social skills, team work, turn taking and effective request making



  • Shape Coding – A visual representation of grammatical structures used in English
    (link to http://www.moorhouseschool.co.uk/shape-coding )
  • Language for Thinking – teaches how to think ‘between the lines’ of language, not just thinking about what has been said, but about what it really means.

(link to http://thinkingtalking.co.uk/language-for-thinking/ )       


Reporting Progress

Progress is continually monitored, and therapy plans are adapted as and when required. Progress is discussed with students and colleagues and documented in Annual Review Reports with contributions to communication targets.

We liaise with the audiologist, tutors and other staff who are directly involved with the students, and parents are welcome to arrange informal consultations with us in addition to official parents’ evenings.

We also have strong links with and work alongside local teams including: Deaf children and adolescent mental health services (Deaf CAMHs), CAMHs, Barnsley assistive technology service and Doncaster’s community health team for adults with learning disabilities (who are able to support us in assessing and providing support for any students with eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties).

The Speech and Language Therapy Team

  • Emma Robinson- speech and language therapist
    specialist in hearing impairment/deafness, learning disabilities and autism
  • Lauren Woodcock- speech and language therapist
    specialist in hearing impairment/deafness, learning disabilities and autism
  • Lana Cook - communication specialist teacher
    25 years of experience helping deaf children improve their communication skills
  • Ruth Merrit – provides regular supervision and support to the onsite speech and language therapy team. Consultant speech and language therapist with over 30 years’ experience in deafness and 12 years’ experience in Cochlear Implants