TherapyPerspectives from a primary school on the referral of bilingual children to speech and language therapy
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There is now more advice about how speech and language therapists (SLTs) should work with children with English as an additional language (EAL), but limited data on the representation of bilingual children on their caseloads. SLTs can only work with the children that are appropriately referred into the service therefore education professionals should be asked how they identify bilingual children with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) and what their criteria are for referral. Four members of staff from one high proportion EAL school (the deputy headteacher, a class teacher, a senior teaching assistant and the Additional Learning Needs Coordinator (ALNCo)) took part in semi-structured interviews exploring criteria for identification and referral of children with SLCN. Thematic analysis was carried out and the three overarching themes which emerged were teacher’s observations and judgements, the use of the Language Link computer-based receptive language assessment, and comments on the referral process. The results show the strengths of an experienced school team who were familiar with working with children with EAL and their families. The school manages some children internally by using Language Link software and a specific member of staff for intervention, which could reduce the need for some external referrals. More training for staff, collaboration between teachers and SLT, and the use of an assessment tool which has been designed for use with bilingual children, could improve the suitability of referrals to the SLT service.
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