Virtual Conference 21st & 22nd May 2021 #LinkLive21. £100 worth of freebies from our online shop. Live chat with the Speech and Language Link Team. All sessions available on demand for 1 month.

Friday 21 May, 13:00

Host: Kate Freeman, Consultant – Speech and Language in Education

We’re so excited to launch our virtual conference focused on identifying and supporting SLCN from 4–14 years. We’re even more thrilled to include such eminent speakers from fields of speech and language, education, psychology and family support. Our programme promises to provide something for everyone, from academic to practical, best equipping you to support children and young people’s vital communication skills.

I look forward to seeing you there!

Friday 21 May, 13:10


Keynote Speaker: Jean Gross CBE, Author, Speaker and Consultant

Interest in children’s wellbeing has never been greater. So, it is a good time to think about the way speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) and wellbeing are intertwined. The Bercow 10 Review I chaired noted, for example, that 81% of children with emotional and behavioural disorders have unidentified language difficulties.

The explanation may lie in some children’s earliest years, since it is warm, responsive parenting that strongly predicts language development, and the same responsiveness also develops the secure attachment that underpins later mental health. But for other children the link will be the difficulty that children with SLCN may have in communicating their needs, making friends, and developing the internal talk that means they can label and manage their emotions.

My top tips for schools, then, would be:

  • Screen every child with social, emotional and mental health needs for potential SLCN
  • Teach all children to communicate how they are feeling, scaffolding with visual support – like emoticons, or simple nonverbal ‘check-ins’ such as putting thumbs up/down/sideways
  • Help children with SLCN manage their emotions, for example helping them put together a personal box of things that help them calm down

Friday 21 May, 14:00


Rose Brooks, Advisory Teacher at Babcock International Education

I am delighted to be able to share my PhD research on vocabulary teaching at The Link Live conference. The study looks at a holistic method of vocabulary teaching that may develop not only spoken vocabulary, but also phonological awareness and phonic reading. Originating in the field of speech and language therapy, this approach involves attention to both sound and meaning aspects of words. In addition to improving vocabulary, the extra phonological awareness input is likely to benefit all children at the early stages of literacy development. In Key Stage 2 and secondary school, it remains a valuable evidence-based tool for targeted intervention.

My study involved nearly 300 Yr1 children divided into three groups: combined sound-meaning approach, meaning-only teaching and a waiting control group. Teachers delivered a daily 10 minute vocabulary teaching programme linked to high quality reading books. Results showed that the combined group made significantly more progress on the taught vocabulary and phonic reading than both other groups, and significantly better progress than the control group on a phoneme awareness task. It seems that training children to learn vocabulary in this way may have wider benefits for their language and literacy progress. Hear more about this project and watch a lesson video at The Link Live. |

Friday 21 May, 16:00


Adam Annand, Speech Bubbles National Lead and Associate Director London Bubble

It’s time to muck about, to move, to make noise, to strike a pose, to make up a story and pretend to be the characters in it. It’s time to show us your grumpy face, your surprised face and your happy one. It’s time to unleash imaginations, to nurture creativity and it’s time to encourage children to experience joy in the learning process and feel great about going to school. The good news is that there is growing body of evidence that creative approaches not only support this ‘play up’ curriculum but also lead to children having improved engagement with learning, confidence, communication and academic outcomes.

It’s a win-win situation!

In my session I will:

  • Introduce the Speech Bubbles drama for communication intervention.
  • Share evidence that demonstrates the positive difference that taking part in a structured drama intervention can make for children with communication needs.
  • Give an update on the post lockdown adaptations we are making, enabling us to reach many more children in need of creative support to be the best ‘communicators’ that they can be.
  • Introduce games and activities for use in the classroom and with small intervention groups to promote a positive communication environment.

Hope you can make it, Adam Annand

Check out these free drama resources for use in school and at home

Friday 21 May, 15:00


Anna Sowerbutts, Highly Specialist Speech and Language Therapist

Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) is a lifelong condition affecting 2 children in every class of 30. DLD describes persistent difficulties with comprehending and/or using language.

Students with DLD often have an acute awareness that they are ‘different’, but without the tools and vocabulary to understand that difference, they are at risk of low self-esteem and feeling less ‘intelligent’ than their peers. Helping students understand what DLD means for them is crucial to their long-term well-being.

DLD And Me: Supporting children and young people with Developmental Language Disorder is a published resource book to help students in Key Stages 2-4 with DLD learn about their strengths and needs. After engaging in DLD And Me, we have seen students grow in confidence and take more active roles within their own education.

Supporting a student with DLD

  • Encourage the student to explain what DLD is like for them.
  • Help them share their experience with their peers, through a presentation, video, Q&A, or poster.
  • Learn about DLD as a class.
  • Return to the student’s strengths – DLD is only a part of who they are.
  • Get involved with International DLD Awareness Day on 15/10/21 (
  • Teaching students about DLD can have transformative effects and can reduce any unarticulated sense of shame or self-blame, while restoring the student’s sense of agency for bringing about change.

Anna Sowerbutts and Amanda Finer, Speech and Language Therapists

@pinchof_SaLT @AmandaFiner

Saturday 22 May, 09:30


Juliet Leonard, SaLT

Supporting adolescents with SLCN as they move into KS3 is crucial, to ensure progress continues, but this is not without its challenges: Adolescence is a time of significant physical and emotional change, prompting sizeable shifts in communication and interaction.

A teenager’s brain is still ‘under construction’ and remodels itself by ‘pruning back’ areas that it no longer needs. SLCN activities previously used may no longer feel relevant and the tone of activities will need to match students’ age rather than stage.

Here are some tips for working with tweens and teens:

Relate it – Using materials which students can both understand and relate to results in greater engagement for learning. Find a ‘hook’, by using a game, scenario or TV show which students like and translate this into an accessible language activity.

Invite them to take control – Give students the opportunity to teach the ‘teacher’, to make decisions and, with support and a little creativity, any subject can be turned into a language activity.

Leave space for responsibility – It has never been more important to foster self-awareness. Allowing time and opportunities for spoken problem solving, personal reflection and identification of strengths and needs enables students to develop self-awareness skills they can build on.

Remember their age – Ask students to doodle pictures if they are needed, use ‘real life’ objects for activities and jointly develop meaningful rewards for individual students.


Stephen Parsons, Speech and Language Therapist

Abstract questions are integral for developing children’s thinking and learning. Children need to be able to respond to questions such as:

“What would happen if …?”

“Why does …?”

“How do you know?”

Most children learn to respond to abstract language naturally, but for those who do not, there may be for a number of different reasons including difficulties with understanding spoken language, expressing themselves or ‘reading between the lines’.

These children may have labels such as autism, Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) or Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN), but many others will not. Limited life experience or knowledge will also impact upon a child’s ability to understand social situations. Unaddressed, difficulties with inference and verbal reasoning will impact on social relationships and learning and socially children will often get the ‘wrong end of the stick’ or appear socially awkward. For many practitioners, inference and verbal reasoning skills are challenging to target because it is difficult to know where to start. ‘Language for Thinking’ is a step-by-step approach for developing children’s abilities to answer increasingly abstract questions. The group intervention is based on familiar social scenarios around school and family life. Increasingly challenging questions are asked about each scenario until they require verbal problem-solving or ‘language for thinking’.

My presentation will outline how ‘Language for Thinking’ can be used effectively and extended with the newly released ‘Language for Behaviour and Emotions.’

LFT Training


Saturday 22 May, 13:00


Lorraine Petersen OBE, Lorraine Petersen Educational Consultancy (LPEC)

Following lockdown this year schools have focused on supporting their pupils to get back into the routines of school life while assessing how much learning, if any, has been lost over the last year. This has been a huge challenge; some students will have made good progress and really enjoyed learning at home, while others have not engaged in remote learning at all and have missed significant parts of the curriculum.

Schools have also had to assess the mental health and wellbeing of all their students to ensure that the trauma of the pandemic has not impacted on them in anyway. This is going to be an on-going process for a considerable time.

By summer term 2021 all schools must be delivering the statutory Relationships, Sex and Relationships and Health Education curriculum. Within the health component there is a significant emphasis on mental health and wellbeing and how this should be taught across all years.

At The Link Live, I will refer to the RSH curriculum and how high-quality teaching in this area will support all students. I will identify some of the signs and symptoms that a student might exhibit if they are having some difficulties with their mental health and wellbeing. I will share strategies that schools may wish to consider to support students including advice on managing transitions along with a range of resources for schools to use. @Lorrainep1957

Saturday 22 May, 11:30


Marie Gascoigne, Director, Better Communications CIC

The past year has posed remarkable challenges for schools and those that support children and young people with speech, language and communication needs across the whole system. However, in the face of adversity there is useful learning and the findings from workshops, conducted in the midst of the first national lockdown in 2020, show that speech and language therapy services that worked with schools across the whole spectrum of universal, targeted and specialist support were better able to support children and young people with speech, language and communication needs during the pandemic.

Drawing on the wide data set of information about provision for children and young people gathered by Better Communication CIC, my session will explore the differences in support for schools at primary, secondary and post 16 levels. Examples from schools that have been accredited through the Balanced System® Schools and Settings joint accreditation with NAPLIC and Afasic provide evidence of ‘what good looks like’ for whole school support and includes reflections on the impact evidence collected as part of the process. Seeing the school provision map in the context of the Local Authority, catchment demographic and local models of support allow a ‘golden thread’ to be identified at school level and for resources to be targeted strategically for impact. @BetterCommCIC


Saturday 22 May, 14:00


Keynote Speaker: Sherann Hillman MBE, Head of Family Services Seashell

Building better partnerships with families is quite simple really, it’s all about good communication underpinning everything we do. When you communicate well together this leads to a mutual respect for each other’s views, with an open and honest relationship that is transparent and continually evolves to achieve meaningful and positive outcomes. This is also known as co-production, the basic principles of which are: actively listening, being open and honest, being respectful, working together, being accountable and responsive, valuing the lived experience and doing what matters. Join me on my keynote to find out how you can embed these values and improve your relationship with families.



Join us and like-minded thinkers at The Link Live.


We look forward to seeing you there.

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