About 16% of teenagers have a Speech, Language and Communication difficulty, meaning that it can be challenging navigating academics and friendships in schools. 

Our work in Secondary schools is where Words First began, back in 2009. Our Director’s area of clinical and professional interest has always been in this age group, for two reasons: a) the (valid) focus on early intervention can imply that it is ‘too late’ once a child reaches secondary, however b) in our experience, with age and maturity plus self-awareness, we often see the biggest improvements in this age group.

At Words First, we focus on Universal, Targeted and Specialist Levels of support in Secondary schools. Taking account of your school’s development plan and goals, your Therapist will discuss different options and present a clear way forward that will meet your targets at Universal, Targeted and/or Specialist Levels.

A few examples of how Words First can work at each level:

Embedding SLCN strategies and raising awareness across the whole school

If your school is aiming to improve awareness of Speech, Language and Communication and embed more SLCN strategies across the curriculum, Words First will work at the Universal Level through specially designed whole-school training, an audit of SLCN and screening of whole year-groups. Our specially designed checklists are often used to screen whole year-groups quickly, thereby identifying pupils at risk of language, literacy or communication difficulties. Our ready-made strategy sheets, alongside training, learning walks and deep dives, are effective ways of “turning the dial” on SLCN (Jean Gross, 2018).

Identification and intervention for small groups of at-risk children or those already delayed in speech, language, literacy or communication.

When you have a significant number of children with SLCN (with or without EHCPs), you may want to extend the reach of Speech and Language to a wide group of pupils. In this case, your Words First Speech and Language Therapist will work closely with a designated member of your team who can deliver interventions under the guidance of your Words First Speech and Language Therapist. Together, the designated member of staff and your Speech and Language Therapist will deliver interventions in small groups, based on the pupils’ assessment results. Our Literacy, Language and Communication Approach is very well suited to this level. Below, you can see the basis of our language and literacy approach in our Reading Wheel. This can be the foundation on which our assessments and interventions are based. However, your Speech and Language Therapist will discuss this as a potential option and she/he may suggest using it as an approach to reach as many children as possible. 

Words First has 5 specially designed, ready-made and research-based programmes with lesson plans and resources for your TAs to use in their sessions (under the guidance of your Words First SaLT). If you are interested in training your TAs, we request that you buy into a Service Level Agreement so that Words First can plan to support your TAs to deliver a robust and effective programme that will have a lasting impact.

Link to Packages – programmes

Assessment and tailored intervention for children with significant challenges in speech, language, literacy or communication

At the Specialist Level, we work with children who have an EHCP, or children who do not have an EHCP but do have significant and complex needs. Their intervention is designed around their unique needs/results from their assessments. Our support is tailored and bespoke and adapts to the need of the student. At Secondary level, our focus is on functional targets around the students’ own views of where they want to progress. We aim to teach the skills and tools and provide a safe place to practise these before taking them into the classroom or social environment.

If your Secondary school is interested in hearing how Words First can support your staff and students then please contact Amanda@wordsfirst.uk for an obligation-free discussion. After our discussion, Amanda will present a proposal that is within your budget.