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St Mary's School and College is specialist school for children with speech, language and communication needs. We take a Total Communication approach to enabling our pupils to communicate.

Speech and Language at St Mary's

The Speech and Language Therapy team consists of Speech and Language Therapists, Speech and language therapy assistants, Signing tutors, and a Total Communication practitioner.   All of our Speech and Language Therapists are HCPC and RCSLT registered and offer a high level of expertise in working with children and young people with communication disorders within the context of complex needs. The team is involved in the assessment, diagnosis and management of speech language and communication needs; social skills and pragmatic language development, and eating and drinking difficulties. The nature and level of speech and language therapy provision provided to each pupil is determined through the comprehensive individual, continuous assessment of need. 

The Speech and Language Therapy team have a range of specialist qualifications, knowledge and experience in areas and approaches including: autistic spectrum disorders; verbal dyspraxia; hearing impairment; specific language impairment; Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC); talking mats; transition; software and apps; building language through Lego; social stories; social language use; dysfluency; and dysphagia. We also have specific experience of working with pupils with Worster Drought, Di George Syndrome, and Pathological Demand Avoidance.

Total Communication

St Mary’s advocates a Total Communication approach. This involves the use of a combination of verbal and non-verbal strategies to support expressive and receptive communication. A range of methods can be employed as part of a Total Communication approach, including: facial expression, gesture and pantomime; voice and speech; drawing and writing; signing (at St Mary’s all staff and pupils are taught Sign Supported English); low technology aids such as symbol books; high technology aids including tablets and speech apps.

Our team of Signing Tutors, Total Communication practitioner and Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) specialists are based on site allowing them to offer ongoing support to pupils, staff and parents.  Signing is used to reinforce concepts and vocabulary, and to support processing, learning and retention.   For those pupils who require (AAC) systems to support our stand in place of speech we are able to offer specialist assessment and ongoing support.  Systems used may range from personalised communication books to hi-tech voice-output technology.  A wide range of resources using picture communication symbols are also used throughout the day to support communication, learning and independence.

We have created 20 Sign Language videos for you to view on our YouTube channel.