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About Speech and Language at Ripplevale School


Our school-based Speech and Language Therapist and a Speech and Language Therapy Assistant aim to provide support and care to children and young people with speech, language and social interaction and communication difficulties, to meet their speech, language and communication needs. Working in partnership and collaboratively with parents, guardians, carers, occupational therapists, teachers and other members of the school staff in the school environment to further develop and support their communication and access to their curriculum. Speech, language and communication intervention focuses on: diagnostic assessment (including observation in lessons) for children and young people; sharing assessment outcomes with carers & teachers; delivering therapy both in 1:1 and small groups/classroom-based, and review/evaluation of outcomes.  

We work with: Children and young people from Primary through to Post 16 age range and we are experienced in supporting students presenting with, for example, Autism Spectrum Disorder; Language Disorder Associated with Autism; Language and Communication Needs; Selective Mutism; Articulation and Phonology (speech sound system); Stammering etc. We aim to see all the children that need the support, and we use a prioritisation system.

Support levels are in 3 categories as follows:

  • Wave 1 Provision - the provision that is universal for all pupils. This provision includes high-quality and differentiated teaching and learning.

  • Wave 2 Provision - additional provision, smaller groups in specific withdrawal time, to accelerate progress. 

  • Wave 3 Provision - is a specific, targeted 1:1 intervention and will be put in place when Wave 1 and 2 do not, on their own, enable the pupil to make appropriate progress. 

Reaching out to children and young people – apart from supporting children and young people in their classroom or quiet room, we may also see them in an outdoor learning environment if they engage better, feel ‘safe’ to talk/use their voice in such an environment.

Referring a child / young people for SaLT support - Most students we support have speech, language and communication needs specified in their EHCP. However, if a student enrols with us, but SaLT is not indicated in their EHCP as one of their needs, then your child / young person can be referred (in the form of an internal referral form or a letter) by:

  • Yourself – parent(s), guardian, carer

  • Class teacher / Form tutor

  • Other professionals

  • A family doctor - GP

Occupational Therapy Process: What is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational Therapists are concerned with how people function in everyday life. We aim to work collaboratively with family/carers and staff with in the school. Occupational Therapy focuses on promoting, maximising and maintaining the skills and abilities of pupils with a wide range of abilities and disabilities. The term Occupational Therapy can often be confusing. It carries the misconception that the profession’s focus is on occupation and job training. In fact, Occupational Therapists promote skill development and independence in daily ‘occupations’ in a broader sense. For an adult, this may mean doing the housework, going to the gym, going to the shops and/or work. For a pupils, this may include playing, accessing learning and being able to eat their meals. Occupational Therapists aim to help pupils develop skills and promote independence through the use of meaningful activities. We aim to work towards the pupil practising skills in their daily activities in the settings and environments they need to do them in. Occupational Therapists are able to analyse the skills necessary for individuals to perform activities. We do this by breaking the task down and identifying the areas of difficulty. Think of the pupil learning to write. To learn this task, the pupil must have:​​

  • good sitting posture and balance,

  • adequate joint stability and muscle strength, 

  • good body awareness and motor planning, 

  • good hand skills, 

  • mature visual perceptual and visual motor skills, 

  • good attention and concentration skills

  • and the cognitive ability to learn this skill! 

This is why it is so valuable for us to be able to observe the pupils completing their everyday tasks, for example, in the classroom.

Occupational Therapy in Special Schools

In our specialist school, we know that pupils may have varying degrees of difficulty due to a number of factors. We can support pupils to develop their daily living skills, for example, dressing, washing, eating, drinking, preparing snacks, personal hygiene, accessing the curriculum including recording work, accessing school outings, participation and access to play and leisure activities.

The School based Occupational Therapy will also consider the sensory needs of the pupils, working towards identifying and limiting the impact of sensory processing difficulties. The Occupational Therapist can use a variety of assessments both standardised and non-standardised to assess the pupils.  Pupils can be seen individually, in small groups or whole class interventions.

How Occupational Therapy Works Within the School:


There are various ways the OT will provide a service to the school. This model may help to explain this:

This represents all the pupils in the school. They are all likely to have some need to improve their functional* skills, but these needs can be met through the classroom/ school environment.

At this level individuals who need some level of additional support to improve their function. The OT may carry out a class observation and an assessment giving strategies to the classroom staff.

Specialist Level
At this level those children need specialist support from an Occupational Therapist. The OT will provide or co-ordinate support for the pupil.

Referral Process:
A completed referral for Occupational Therapy is required for every request for intervention. Parents/carers can make a referral through teaching staff or other professionals or direct to the OT (through face-to-face or telephone call discussion). If the pupil is referred to the Occupational Therapy Service, you as parents/carers will be asked to give your consent.

The Occupational Therapist works in a variety of ways:

  • Running formal training sessions for school staff that have a practical focus with theory to back-up implementation.  Understanding Physical Development and Sensory Processing Differences related to ASD.

  • Parent/carers are able to access support and training through ‘Coffee mornings’ and can be asked in to school for an OT Consultation appointment, to discuss home concerns and to observe a practical session.

  • Termly intervention blocks for individual or group work.

  • Therapy programmes taught and implemented in class and at home, training and support offered to staff and parents/carers.

  • Adapted equipment trialled and loaned.

  • Formal Reports and Programmes.

Therapy Approaches:

The Occupational Therapist uses a variety of approaches, treatment programmes and standardised tools, the specialist areas include:

  • Sensory integration therapy/Sensorimotor interventions eg Sensory Circuits, Sensory Diet.

  • Therapeutic listening – Quickshifts music based tool.

  • Neurological developmental theory.

  • Play as a therapeutic medium.

  • Sensory motor intervention.

  • ICT support.

Drawing and Talking

Drawing and Talking is a safe and gentle therapeutic approach, which provides an effective way for both children and adults to process emotional pain or trauma they may be experiencing.

People are impacted emotionally by many different events, struggles or traumas. Sometimes they are unable to make sense of how they are feeling and how those feelings are impacting on their happiness and ability to navigate the world.

Too often children and adults feel afraid to admit they need help around their mental health and emotional wellbeing.

Whether you are a child or young person, adult or grandparent, we all at times feel like we are struggling.

The important thing to know and remember is you are not alone, and help is available.

The sessions remain confidential between the person accessing support and the practitioner. At the end of each session, your son’s pictures will be put into their folder and kept safely away until the next session.

At the end of all the work (12 sessions), when the individual is feeling better, the folder is handed back to them to keep as they wish and to show to who they wish.

Drawing and Talking is not intended to be used as a tool to ‘find out’ what is wrong or why the person behaves the way they do. It is not behaviour modification or used to fix a problem that a person has or is experiencing.

Practitioners do not interpret the pictures and do not ask direct questions. The technique should also not be used to replace other specialist services, (such as CAMHS, Psychotherapy, Art or Play therapy) but can be used as an interim tool whilst waiting to be seen by CAMHS or other professionals and can also be used after referral has been completed to complement external agencies.

We all want all people to be happy and flourish. The individual accessing support will work one to one with a trained Drawing and Talking Practitioner for 45 minutes, once a week, over 12 sessions.

Within the sessions, the individual will draw anything they choose and will be encouraged to talk about what they have drawn using storytelling language (like metaphors) to help them make sense of their internal world.

The technique is intended to allow the child to play, by drawing a picture, and process any emotions they are holding internally in a safe and non-confrontational way, working at their own pace.

Drawing and Talking
Information Leaflet

Sand Play

We know that people express themselves in all kinds of ways. Practitioners who have attended our Advanced training can offer Sand Play to children or adults who are accessing support.

Although they will not be ‘Drawing’, Sand Play uses the same approach as Drawing and Talking and the individual will be allowed to play with the sand tray and accompanying toys. They will then work with the Drawing and Talking Practitioner to tell a story about the sand work that they have created, and we know this helps people to express and then process their inner world and feelings within.

It's a great school for our son because of the holistic approach to each individual child. Having the therapy team on site is a complete game changer. OT interventions are key to our son being able to access his educational curriculum. SALT is key to him developing his social communication skills for life so he can be understood and so that he can develop meaningful relationships.


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