Elklan Language Friendly School

Bridgelea is an accredited Communication Friendly Setting – acknowledged by the award received through ELKLAN.  This means that understanding the speech, language and communication needs of all our children is at the fore front of the offer we provide for our children.  It means that the classroom environment is tailored to their needs.  And it also means that our staff are skilled at altering their own communication with each child.

Elklan Communication Friendly Setting (CFSc) accreditation is awarded to settings that have trained and support all their staff in communication and language development. They will also have shown evidence of embedding this knowledge in targeted interventions and through the implementation of a Communication Policy.

Bridgelea is Manchester’s Primary PRU, providing education to children who have been excluded from primary school, are at risk from being excluded or have an EHC plan where Bridgelea has been named as their school to support Social, Emotional and Mental Health Needs. Bridgelea gained the Communication Friendly school award in 2013. We were the first Primary Pru in the country to gain this award. Since gaining the Communication Friendly status in 2013 Bridgelea Primary school has worked hard, training staff in order to maintain the high standard of Elklan practises within school.

We have ensured the high standards of practise have been maintained in a variety of ways:

By communication counts training for all new staff.

  • A TLR (teaching and Learning Responsibility) allowance has been allocated to a Level 4 Elklan practitioner.  
  • A rolling programme of Accredited Elklan Speech and language support for 5-11’s courses.
  • Allocating funding for all over the above, highlights the importance Bridgelea holds for the development of communication within our setting.
  • Two day Speech and Language therapy is commissioned by the school, focusing on both the assessment of children as well as the capacity building of staff.

(A) Supporting SLCN:

  • A list of non-negotiables for each classroom has been established for class teams to have evident in their room and use with in the classroom. From labelled draws and pegs to visual timetables (see appendix.)
  • To support children with their needs and identify strategies for staff to use, which support the children, a communication passport has been devised by the speech and language therapist outlining need and strategies. (see appendix)
  • A one-page profile which is a person centred tool has been used with strategies to support children in their learning and their emotional regulation. This is written with the child and teacher, and is shared within the class-team. These profile includes Elklan –type strategies, for example: using processing time and blank level questioning (see appendix for example)
  • Communication charts have been developed to highlight emotional difficulties the children have and strategies and scripts (using clear vocabulary) used to support self-regulation when children are in crisis. Again these are written with the child and teacher. 
  • Provision Maps within Bridgelea is an inclusive way of showing the range of provision available to pupils throughout the school. The provision map describes the provision the school will make each year for pupils with Special Educational Needs and disabilities. Part of the provision referenced in these provision maps at Bridgelea is that the children will access Elklan Practises and Elklan trained staff.
  • 10-point Emotional scale displayed within each classroom and intervention. The 10-point scale looks at emotions in shades, so that they can begin to identify positive and negative feelings. This aids them in self soothing and reflecting on incidents. The intervention to apply the scale begins with specific vocabulary and contextualisation. Six key words showing “shades” of emotions are targeted over 6 weeks. There is a scenario based activity followed by Elklan speech and language activities. The intervention progresses to applying known words to real life experiences. This area has been developed throughout school and is now being implemented. Time will ow be needed to embed this into everyday practise.
  • Curriculum displays within each classroom have provided opportunities for children to see new language and be taught new science and topic words, using a range of strategies using activities from Elklan extending vocabulary guidelines.
  • The use of visuals to aid independent learning in a communication friendly manner varies for each child and within our mixed year group class settings. In general, Y5&6 children make use of Task plans to aid independence. Whiteboards and now and next charts support the children in Y3 and 4, For children in our Key Stage one setting instructions are doodled on whiteboards to aid understanding.
  • Visual timetables are tailored to suit the needs of each class. In Upper Key stage 2 classes, pictures and words are used and displayed horizontally in a suitable place in their classroom. In Lower Key Stage 2, the timetable is split into morning and afternoon session.
  • Thinking time for specific children when checking understanding has been beneficial to children who have an identified need with SLCN

Examples of how the strategies have been used for specific children:

  • A child in key stage 1.  Staff have noticed that this child was answering questions one question later, staff now allow him extra processing time in addition to the 10 second processing time.
  • A child in Y4 with a variety of needs, including Autism, needs constant visuals to aid understanding and learning.
  • A Year 5 child with EAL has comprehension difficulties in his first language.  Staff have simplified their language in addition to providing visuals for this particular child.
  • A Year 4 child with listening difficulties has received intervention using barrier games in 1:1 sessions with an adult. To build on this an additional child will be introduced to the sessions.
  • A child with speech difficulties in Y2 – the teaching staff listen carefully, and repeat back to him to ensure full understanding.
  • A child in Y1 with delayed spoken language – staff model correct grammar when they think it’s appropriate.

(C) As part of ongoing CPD for all our staff Communication counts has been delivered to all new staff who have joined Bridgelea in recent months.   Over the years, in addition to this training, other training has been available to all staff through compulsory staff training sessions or as optional extra training opportunities.

  • Talk boost for KS 1 delivery 1 SENCo & 2 TAS attended training.
  • Social Communication Skills intervention (SENCo and 2x TAs) – to deliver a group in school.
  • Social stories training delivered by LCP to staff in CPD meeting
  • Emotional scale training delivered by LCP to staff in CPD meeting
  • Additional/voluntary training for staff delivered by Speech and language therapist Lego talk and Barrier games
  • Additional/voluntary training for staff delivered by Speech and language therapist vocabulary learning skills

Looking forward: Plans

  • Embed the emotional scale throughout school
  • Update the website to include Elklan and SLCN tips for parents
  • Parent training; to consider the practicalities of offering an Elklan ‘Let’s talk’ programme for parents
  • Systematic plan of talk boost interventions
  • Develop the use of SLCN in retreat.
  • Develop emotional vocabulary.
  • Support and develop strategies to enhance the teaching of vocabulary across the curriculum.

WOW moment 4.1

Since the Elklan Language, friendly school training staff have fed back changes to their daily classroom practise and I have observed a number of positive changes within the staff at Bridgelea.

The most obvious change in staff practise is that staff are consciously waiting for longer periods of time after asking a child a question. The 10 second processing time has had a positive impact on the children. They have been able to think about the question and answer questions set without getting angry or frustrated with themselves for not answering quicker or alternatively answering too quickly and getting it wrong. The prolonged waiting time has allowed the children to feel more successful in lesson time and nurture times, when sharing news or views because they have that time to process the question and process and organise their responses correctly.

The second positive which all staff have taken on board are the use of visuals.

All staff use the interactive whiteboards in classrooms to aid their teaching. To support the children’s learning, additional visuals are used to support language and aid understanding of tasks required. This above examples show a range of maths activities for the children to complete. It explains the equipment the children will need and a set of instructions to complete the task.

For our children who need a more quite place to learn, the same style of visualisation is used away from the main teaching area to support understanding.

Staff understanding of children’s needs has been a Wow moment for our speech and Language therapist. Without any additional input staff have written a profile for a child identifying need using appropriate Elkaln and SLCN strategies.

ELKLAN is becoming so embedded within our daily practise at recent staff training on the Nurturing Principles, it was identified as one of our strongest and most successful strategies used to help our children  be successful, in day to day life within the classroom. These were unprompted responses by staff during the training day.




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