A London comprehensive has opened an on-site Communication Centre to support more than 100 pupils with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) and offer training to schools across the country.
The Michael Sterne Communication Centre at Lampton School in Hounslow will support students from across the borough.
The centre was opened by Edward Timpson, the minister for children and families, last week and will offer 16 places for pupils with Specific Language Impairment (SLI) and support a further 90 pupils who have SLCN.
The centre is to be staffed by specialist teachers, speech and language therapists and higher level teaching assistants. The team will work closely with other schools in London and across the UK to support best practice in improving provision, including offering professional training.
Mr Timpson said: “Speech, language and communication skills are bedrock skills and vital for young people if they are to succeed at school and in the workplace. I am delighted that Lampton School has built on its expertise, in this area. The Communication Centre will act as a hub of knowledge and expertise. raising awareness of speech, language and communication needs and helping schools across the country to develop children’s speech, language and communication skills.”
In the UK, it is estimated that 10 per cent of all children have long-term or persistent SLCN, the equivalent of three in every UK classroom. These children can find it hard to understand what is said to them, form words and construct sentences. Some children have average or above average cognitive skills, but show significant difficulties in areas of language development; this is described as Specific Language Impairment.
A 2009 study identified that 10 out of 15 secondary students at risk of exclusion had communication difficulties.
In Hounslow, 50 per cent of children are entering nursery presenting with significant speech and language difficulties. Dame Sue John, head at Lampton, added: “It is essential that young people are supported to achieve and thrive at school. We will offer bespoke support to meet the needs of individual pupils’ SLCN, drawing on a wide range of programmes and interventions. Our aim is to give pupils skills and strategies that will help with their learning in mainstream lessons and we will share best practice and what works with others schools across the UK.”
The centre has been named after Michael Sterne, an SEN governor, who has been on the governing body at Lampton since 1995. Visit www.lampton.hounslow.sch.uk CAPTION: Opening: Children’s minister Edward Timpson (centre) with speech and language therapist Julie Gould (right) and pupils (l-r) Liam O’Connor, Daniaal Mahmood and Rhys Samuel