Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN)

Speech and Language Therapy

Speech, language and communication underpins everything we do – making our needs known, expressing our likes and dislikes, interacting with others and building relationships.

We often take these skills for granted, but many children struggle to communicate. They have speech, language and communication needs known as SLCN.

A child with speech, language and communication needs:

  • Might have speech that is difficult to understand
  • They might struggle to say words or sentences
  • They may not understand words that are being used, or the instructions they hear
  • They may have difficulties knowing how to talk and listen to others in a conversation
  • Children may have just some or all of these difficulties.

Speech, language and communication are crucial for reading, learning in school, for socialising and making friends, and for understanding and controlling emotions or feelings. The type of difficulties a child with SLCN has can change as they get older. For example they may get better at understanding what other people are saying but still struggle to put sentences together.

Speech Therapy at Clarendon

We have our own speech therapist called Helen Amella who works for Speechwise (Independent Speech and Language Therapy | North West | SpeechWise (speechwisetherapy.co.uk)

Helen works closely with our staff to ensure we identify children swiftly who would benefit from intervention. Helen particularly works closely with our SENCO, Mrs Cairns, and the following Teaching assistants in school: Mrs Irfan provides the majority of our targeted programmes across school; Mrs Battle and Mrs Moloney provide universal intervention for children in EYFS and Talkboost in Year 1.

Please click the link below for some free resources you can download and share. They include helpful information, tips, and advice on different areas of Speech and Language Therapy.

A Total Communication Approach

The total communication approach is about finding and using the right combination of communication methods for each child. This approach helps an individual to form connections, ensures successful interactions and supports information exchanges and conversations.

Total communication includes:

  1. Speech
  2. Body language
  3. Facial expression
  4. Signing and gesture
  5. Vocalisations
  6. Symbols, visuals, photographs
  7. PECS (picture exchange)
  8. Written words
  9. Hearing
  10. Touch
  11. Taste
  12. Art
  13. Music
  14. Contextual cues
  15. Behaviour

We all communicate in different ways and we believe each way should be equally respected.

Individual Communication Needs

Some children require personalised speech and language plans to ensure they have access to appropriate strategies related to their stage of development, such as PECS or signing. Having a whole school approach to Total Communication ensures these children can participate and contribute as fully as they can.

At Clarendon, we use a range of communication strategies and approaches in order to enable children with communication difficulties develop their skills. Some children use PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) and many benefit from the use of visuals and symbols to support their understanding. (Such as using a visual timetable to help children understand what is happening throughout the day.)


Signalong is a key word sign-supported communication system based on British sign language.  It uses speech, sign, body language, facial expression and voice tone to reference the link between sign and word. It is designed to support spoken language, so the signs are used with speech, in spoken word order.

At Clarendon, we have some children who use signing to help them understand and communicate with others. As part of our whole school Total Communication Approach, we have begun to learn the signs for core vocabulary. We are really excited about using Signalong throughout school to ensure everyone feels included, valued and understood.

Communication In Print

School currently uses ‘Communicate in Print’ (Widgit) in school which uses symbols to aid communication and learning.


Symbols for inclusion and accessibility

Clarendon Primary believes that no matter what your level of ability is to communicate, read or write, you should have fair and equal access to information.

Widgit have pioneered the use of symbols in learning and communication for over 30 years and their software is used around the world to create symbol-supported materials in print, onscreen and online.

All our staff have access and are familiar with this software. It is used for a wide variety of purposes to support children’s understanding and use of vocabulary in all that we do.