To explore teachers’ knowledge of speech, language and communication needs within mainstream education
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Background. The number of children with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) has increased dramatically in recent years. This means the number of children with additional learning needs in mainstream settings is also increasing. Teachers play a pinnacle role in working with these children through identification, intervention and management. However, one of the biggest barriers for teachers working with these children is their lack of knowledge of SLCN. Aims. To explore teachers’ knowledge of SLCN in mainstream settings. The specific objectives are; Ø To explore teachers’ knowledge of SLCN Ø To explore teachers’ confidence in identifying children with SLCN Ø To identify the difficulties they feel they may encounter when working with children with SLCN Ø To explore the relationship between their experience and training and their level of confidence and knowledge in dealing with SLCN. Methods & Procedures. 22 participants were recruited from mainstream primary schools. They were asked to complete questionnaires consisting of three sections; background information, knowledge of SLCN and assessment of SLCN. The Statistical Package for the Social Sciences was used to analyse the 5 data using descriptive statistics and the Chi-squared test. Outcomes & Results. Most of the participants in this study perceived their own knowledge of SLCN as low. The majority of teachers in this study had no further training in speech and language difficulties following their initial qualification. This also has an impact on their confidence in working with different areas of speech and language. This study shows there are definitive gaps in their knowledge particularly around definitions and referrals. Conclusions & Implications. Some teachers lack knowledge of SLCN which has an impact on their confidence in working with children with SLCN. More training is needed to equip teachers so that they are able to perform their vital role as part of speech and language therapy multi-disciplinary team.
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