​​Speech and Language Therapy – a priority for the Trust

06 May 2022 |

Coming out of the pandemic, there was an awareness that increased numbers of students were having issues with speech and language and waiting lists for assessments were delayed due to the increase in referral numbers.

So, an initiative was put together, where the Trust could react more quickly when a problem has been identified and also disseminate good practice through our teaching staff. This was an area where we needed to improve our provision for our students especially for nursery and reception children. The issue was exacerbated by the geographical location of the Trust being in central Devon and far away from other provision and because of the numbers of need.

​Work was undertaken by Derrick Brett and Suzie Stevens in researching how a Speech and Language Therapist could be employed by the Trust working across all of our schools. With a fully trained professional filling this role, it would also mean the Trust could support SALT students from Marjon university by offering them placements in schools as part of their degrees. We were fortunate to employ Katy Mullin who started with the Trust in March and works 2 days a week. She is a fully qualified speech and language therapist who is based in St James but covers the whole of the Trust. Katy has previous experience working in a SEMH school in Devon and prior to that, working independently and in the NHS.

Katy has already started overseeing SALT students from Marjon and they will hold their own small caseload across the Trust for 7 weeks. The students would be directing to those children who would benefit from a short burst of support whilst more complex cases will be handled by Katy herself. It is early days and Katy is considering starting a referral system process for high priorities from Schools. Katy may provide half a term assessing and providing programmes and during certain school terms, deliver organised blocks of direct therapy within her 2 days. Katy said “the service will have to be equitable across the Trust, but needs to be child specific regardless of geography and will not be limited to primary aged children.’

A team of Melissa Trudgill, Derrick Brett and Suzie Stevens were successful in a grant application to the Laurel Trust which is funding a research project to understand whether SALT intervention at an early age has considerably more impact than if it is introduced later on. This project will involve EYFS staff being trained in 2 intervention groups to deliver a language intervention and a speech sound intervention. Derick Brett said “we are very fortunate in receiving this grant as it will support the work we were planning to do and the research project will be beneficial for the Trust and beyond. We want to be efficient in the way we deliver interventions and the more research we can do in that so we can get the best results for our pupils, is positive.”

I asked how much contact Katy might have with parents? Katy expressed that she “wants to be a presence in the community and not just in the schools. She hopes to attend some parent forums and plans to hold Stay and Play session for concerned parents with booked in slots for advice for parents”. Katy also emphasised the importance of providing not just an intervention programme but how we can support children day in day out and how can we make their environment communication friendly and supportive.

Katy has 2 young children, one who attends a Trust school and one soon to be and is looking forward to being part of the community.

Thanks Katy for the interview and wishing you all the best in this important new role for the Trust.