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BESA CORNER


This month, in our ongoing feature highlighting the work of members of the UK education suppliers’ trade body BESA, we hear from SLCN specialists SPEECHLINK MULTIMEDIA; and speak to ROB LANGMAN from online maths platform THIRD SPACE LEARNING.


The importance of developing the SLCN knowledge-base of your workforce for a communication friendly school


With the recent disruption that has rocked all schools nationwide, the new academic year brings fresh challenges for us all. We know that learners are threatened by a widening attainment gap. We know that so much time away from the structured learning environment that schools provide will have stilted or indeed stalled development of key skills for some. We can also surmise that there will be children whose needs have gone unidentified because they have spent less time in school where staff would ordinarily have had the opportunity to unravel their strengths and difficulties.


Speech, Language, and Communication Needs (SLCN) have been


increasingly prevalent in schools for years and, in the current situation, it looks unlikely that this trend will slow down anytime soon. There will be more need than ever to ensure that schools are well-equipped to support pupils who have SLCN. The first steps will be consideration of SLCN as a potential cause of difficulties in the classroom, and accurate and specific identification of children’s needs.


Thanks to the increasing notoriety of SLCN, schools are all the time


getting better at considering whether these might be affecting their pupils learning and wellbeing. However, the more staff know, the better off pupils will be, and developing staff knowledge is something that can be improved upon in every school. Good quality Continuing Professional Development (CPD) opportunities and relevant, accessible resources for staff can benefit the whole school community.


To meet this need, Speech Link Multimedia has worked hard to


develop an essential resource for school staff – ‘The Ultimate Guide to SLCN’. This eBook has been written by qualified speech and language therapists who have extensive experience working in mainstream schools and specialist education settings. We aim to demystify SLCN, and the common childhood conditions which may be related, so that you can better understand the children in your classroom. This definitive reference guide is divided into three sections and offers practical and specific advice on how to support children in the classroom with regard to the particular diagnoses or needs that they may have, as well as guidance for your whole school so that your community can become truly inclusive and communication friendly.


We believe that supporting children starts with understanding them.


Since 2003 we have been helping you to identify and support children’s SLCN in school, and with this new practical handbook to support staff working in the classroom, staff will feel confident in unpicking and understanding the needs of the children who they meet.


You can now get our new eBook ‘The Ultimate Guide to SLCN’ (RRP


£23.99) for FREE when you complete a free trial of one of our assessment and support packages. Choose from Speech Link, Infant Language Link, Junior Language Link or Secondary Language Link. Book your 2-week trial today and get access to Sections One and Three right away. See the difference it can make for your school.


For more information and to book your FREE TRIAL please visit www.speechandlanguage.info


14 www.education-today.co.uk


Taking a strategic approach in your school to plugging gaps in maths


With the majority of primary pupils, and all secondary pupils, missing out on more than 12 weeks of school- based education, there are going to be substantial learning gaps upon the return to school in September (or later). These gaps are going to be most substantial for disadvantaged pupils, who are the least likely to have adequate access to digital technology and basic amenities like internet to access home learning. The Education Endowment Foundation’s recent assessment on the


impact of school closures on the attainment gap found that school closures are likely to reverse all progress made over the last decade in closing the attainment gap between disadvantaged children and their peers, particularly in Maths. So, what can we do to try and plug gaps quickly, and close the attainment gap in maths?


The EEF recommends two actions: • supporting effective remote learning such as online tuition to mitigate the size of the gap before reopening • sustained support upon return to help disadvantaged pupils catch up. Having supported more than 60,000 disadvantaged pupils with online maths tuition and catch up intervention programmes in UK schools over the last 5 years, Third Space Learning are well placed to advise and help close the attainment gap.


Supporting effective remote learning Third Space Learning have continued to deliver weekly one-to-one lessons to homes of pupils from more than 700 schools in the UK. With each child paired up with a maths specialist tutor, they work through a personalised learning programme designed to raise attainment and boost confidence. Clear explanations and regular feedback is provided by the tutor, with


effort points awarded to pupils to help encourage a growth mindset. Sustained support upon return to help disadvantaged pupils catch up The three options that spring to mind for most are to ask current


teachers to provide catch up, to hire a new teacher or teaching assistant to run catch up, or to look for alternate provision. The idea that we can simply ask teachers to work additional hours to


help pupils catch up is an illusion. How does this balance at all with reducing teacher workload, work life balance and ultimately the continuingly dismal teacher retention statistics? If we then consider bringing in a new teacher or teaching assistant, we


must first consider our limited budget, and secondly, the risk we take in the event of a second lockdown or delayed return. We can’t feasibly expect a new staff member who will most likely not have remote learning catch up experience to deliver sessions online to pupils at home, as well as the limited ability for this to scale to the pupil body – how many sessions can a single human deliver in a given week? Fortunately for school leaders now turning to alternate provision, Third


Space Learning’s online one-to-one maths catch up programmes have the flexibility to have sessions delivered to schools or homes in our online classroom. Kevin Presniell, Deputy Headteacher at Brompton Westbrook Primary


School recently commented “The fact that it’s been so flexible and easy to use has been a relief. I wouldn’t have any problems continuing if we’re at home next term!”. With a speciality for working with disadvantaged children, Third Space


Learning are providing the flexible, evidenced solution that schools desperately require.


If you want to take an active role in closing the attainment gap for disadvantaged pupils, visit thirdspacelearning.com and book a free demo.


July/August 2020


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