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Speech Language and Communication Needs (SLCN)

At EOTAS we believe that having good communication skills is essential to achieving happy, healthy and fulfilling lives.  We employ a speech and language therapist for four days a week to work with our staff and students to develop the knowledge and skills needed to become confident and effective communicators.  Being able to communicate well is important for many areas of our lives including learning, making (and keeping) friends, socialising, organising our lives, gaining employment and managing relationships.  Below are some examples of how we use our speech, language and communication skills in our everyday lives;


When students are referred to EOTAS Swindon they will be screened for speech, language and communication difficulties and a referral made to speech and language therapy, if a more detailed assessment is needed.  Parents are asked to complete a questionnaire about their child’s communication and the referring school will also be sent a questionnaire to complete to identify any known communication difficulties.

The reason for this is that there has been a lot of research identifying the link between children’s social, emotional and mental health difficulties and weak speech, language and communication skills.  When a young person has communication difficulties this can have an impact on their learning, their ability to understand manage their emotions, make healthy choices and manage relationships.  For many of our pupils, this will be the first time they will have been seen for an assessment of their underlying communication skills.


Staff are trained in carrying out the Communication Trust Progression Tools; which forms part of a holistic assessment process for students coming in to EOTAS.  The Progression Tool is divided into four key areas of speech, language and communication skills.

* Understanding of spoken language and verbal reasoning

* Understanding and using vocabulary

* Sentence structure and narrative

* Social interaction

For more information regarding the Progression Tool and other resources to support young people’s communication go to;

We also believe that it is important to students to be able to recognise their communication strengths and difficulties and explore this using Rating Scales.

                                       Here are some ways that our students describe what it’s like to have a communication difficulty.


A ‘Communication Needs’ assessment helps us to find out whether there are underlying speech and language difficulties which are having an effect on a student’s learning and interaction skills.  We can develop student’s communication and learning skills by making sure that all our staff are aware of strategies and tools to support understanding, expressive language, social communication and social thinking skills.  This may include providing visual tools to support understanding, and adapting or simplifying curriculum language.   Providing simple structures to help students develop more complex language skills such as describing, explaining, predicting and justifying (verbal reasoning skills). These are some of the skills we need to manage our relationships in everyday life.

At EOTAS we are developing small group interventions to help our students to understand the importance of having good communication skills.  We believe that in order for students to make lasting changes to their behaviour they need to develop;

Self-awareness – understanding their strengths and challenges with language, learning, managing their emotions and relationships.

Self-regulation – being able to identify, evaluate and manage their emotions and actions.

Self – advocacy – being able to communicate their ideas, needs and opinions in an assertive way.

Social Thinking Skills – being able to adjust communicate to the needs of the situation and the people we ‘share space’ with.

One example of how we develop a student’s self-awareness and self-advocacy is the ‘Communication Passport’. 

We work with students to develop the communication passport so that they can communicate the things that they would like people to know about their strengths and difficulties and how best to support them.


If you would like to know more about speech, language and communication needs, information can be found here;