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Thornfield House special School, Newtownabbey
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Speech and Language Therapy Department

The Speech and Language Therapy team working in Thornfield House School are all employed by the Northern Health and Social Care Trust (NHSCT). The Team consists of six Speech and Language Therapists and a Speech and Language Therapy Assistant. The staff who work on a full and part time basis are based in the school. The staff are supervised by the Clinical Lead Speech and Language Therapist for Developmental Language Disorder. The Speech and Language Therapists (SLTs) are registered members of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) and the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). The Speech and Language Therapy Team in Thornfield must also adhere to standards and policies laid down by the NHSCT.

Speech and Language Therapy in Thornfield

Speech and language therapy in Thornfield can take several different forms. The type and amount of therapy required by each child will be decided following detailed assessment of a child’s speech and language/communication skills. The factors taken into consideration when making this decision are:

- the nature of the communication problem

- the functional impact of the difficulty on the child’s life

- the impact of the communication difficulty on a child’s ability to access to the curriculum

- the child’s readiness to respond to therapy

- the level of support available in the classroom

- the level and effectiveness of parental/home support

- the child’s motivation to change

- the child’s previous response to speech and language therapy

The Speech and Language Therapy staff carry out therapy in close collaboration with the education staff. Regular liaison sessions between the teacher and the therapist take place to allow for discussion and planning around the needs of the child.


Initial assessment of a child’s speech and language takes place on entry to the school and then

subsequently on an annual basis. During assessment periods therapists and teachers work together to share and exchange information. This leads to joint planning and the setting up of common goals. This ensures that speech and language therapy aims are included in the child’s Individual Education Plan. Therapy goals are revised in tandem with the child’s Individual Education Plan. Assessment focuses on the impact of the child’s communication difficulties across all environments in terms of functionality and the child’s ability to cope with daily living.

Therapy Options

Speech and Language Therapy sessions can take one or more of the following forms. A child can receive one or more types of intervention according to need.

Class Based Groups

These groups are carried out in the classroom. The teacher and therapist plan these sessions together and decide on the priority areas for each class. These are usually focused around curricular topics.

Withdrawl Groups

These groups generally take place in the Speech and Language Therapist’s room. Children with a similar level and type of difficulty are grouped together and taken for sessions in small groups.

Individual Therapy Sessions

Individual therapy sessions are allocated on the basis of need by the Speech and Language Therapist following a full Speech and Language Assessment. These individual sessions allow for more targeted child specific work to be carried out. N.B. A Speech and Language Therapy Assistant may also take group and/or individual sessions under the supervision of a Speech and Language Therapist.

Home Support

Parents are asked to support their child in their therapy programme in the following ways …

Parent Interviews

Parents are encouraged to attend all parent/ teacher/ therapist meetings. These are generally held twice a year in the first and second terms.

Telephone Contact

A child’s speech and language therapist will keep in contact with parents via the use of phone/zoom calls as appropriate. Parents can also contact their child’s speech and language therapist directly at any time using the speech and language therapy direct telephone number i.e. 02890 863749


Parents are required to support homework set in the child’s speech and language therapy homework book or folder. The role of the parent is also to reinforce strategies recommended by the therapist in the home and during homework activities.

Parent Training

During the course of the school year, parents are invited to attend training on key aspects of Speech and Language. Strategies used in school to promote the development of speech and language skills will be shared with the parents during these sessions. This will enable parents to use the same strategies in the home, as educational and therapy staff use in school.

Speech and Language Therapy Programmes

The following are examples of some of the speech and language therapy
programmes used by the therapy staff in Thornfield.

  • Cued Articulation
  • Paget Gorman Signed Speech
  • The Derbyshire Language Scheme
  • Talkabout Social Skills Training

Further Information

Should you require any further information on the Speech and Language Therapy Department please contact the department on 02890 863749.