Date: Thursday 23rd November 2023

Venue: Online (and available on demand)

Time: 15:30-17:00


Kate Freeman, consultant – speech and language in education

Lynn How, SENCo, education consultant and founder of Positive Young Minds


The Role of the SENCo in SLCN – Barriers and Solutions

Suitable for

SENCos, teachers and support staff and all who support pupils with SLCN


Kate Freeman, Consultant – speech and language in education and author of the ‘Word’s Together’ series, designed to support children to understand and use two-word sentences.

Chairing The Link Live conferences for the last three years, I have been overwhelmed by the knowledge, wisdom and experiences of the participants, let alone the speakers!

The conferences have been remarkable in providing opportunities to hear inspirational presentations from a speaker and then to discuss the content of the presentation, unpicking how it applies practically in a range of situations.

Our conferences, held online, came at just the right time with pandemic restrictions in place. Since then, there is recognition that an online platform for events means reductions in time and costs of travelling and yet still gives people the chance to share and plan together.

With this in mind, and also recognising that, going forward, not everyone is able to give up a full day to participate in events such as The Link Live conference, we are planning twilight sessions for staff wanting to know more about supporting students with SLCN (speech, language and communication needs).

The opportunity for online twilight sessions with particular focuses can suit a large number of people. There will also be a chance to catch up with these sessions at another time if there is a lastminute situation that prevents you from taking part on the day, as they are available on-demand for one month.

We will kick off the autumn term and our new Link Live Sessions programme by welcoming Lynn How, former SENCo and teacher who will be addressing the challenges SENCos face when supporting pupils with SLCN and offering ideas to help overcome them. There will also be an opportunity to develop your knowledge of speech, language and communication as a whole and to identify tools for SENCos, as well as useful strategies for all staff in primary schools to use.


 Lynn How, SENCo, freelance writer, author, editor of @TeacherToolkit and educational consultant

My 20 years’ experience as a practicing SENCo, educator and leader includes working in an enhanced provision for speech, language and communication needs (SLCN). I well understand SENCos’ trials and tribulations. Join me on the 23rd November for my session: The Role of the SENCo for SLCN – Barriers and Solutions.

Many SENCos are aware of the pandemic impact on the lack of access to valuable speech and language opportunities. Spinning plates and trying to be effective provides upward struggles. These hints and tips come from my experience and will hopefully help you too.

  • Training/support

Large numbers of SENCos need SLCN advice and lack specific training. With Zoom, a variety of excellent courses have become easier to access.

Being a lone SENCo can feel lonely. Try forming a cluster with local schools and bounce SLCN ideas around, or access social media, YouTube channels or SENCo Facebook groups (see mine below). Set aside weekly work time for CPD, explaining to your line manager how social media or YouTube are used for professional purposes.

  • Senior leadership team

Many amazing heads know how to identify, support and include SLCN, but unfortunately not all. Heads unaware of their lack of knowledge can provide particular challenges. I recommend research, stats and impact information. Consider what the head or CEO wants (better results), then make links with improving pupils’ speech and language. SLCN is a relatively easy fix in the early years, with increased later academic outcomes.

Ask leaders to enable relevant SLCN CPD. Remind them of their own need for basic training and encourage them to attend relevant meetings. After all, good SLCN provision supports all pupils’ learning and improves teaching quality and overall learning.

  • High-quality teaching

Retaining staff can be challenging, with frustrations over the cycle of re-training staff. Consider HQT in staff induction, alongside training webinars for later use. Regularly drip-feed information into staff meetings. Create individual pupils’ zippy folders with specific resources.

  • Lack of screening

Many needs are hidden or masked – secondary pupils apparently with SEMH (social, emotional and mental health) needs may have missed screening for SLCN.

Use a screening package systematically for new pupils, whatever year they enter your school.

  • Lack of external support

With the increasing need and fewer NHS resources, schools struggle to access professional help. Much can bridge the gap – download SLCN activities, making interventions from those that pupils struggle with. Consider termly speech and language therapy sessions to set individual targets if funding allows, then download appropriate activities. Speech & Language Link’s packages provide all the resources needed to support the language development of identified pupils.

  • Pupils’ continuing high needs

My junior school experiences highlighted pupils meeting their NHS SLCN targets by year 2 and then their support ending. Please don’t assume that, once signed off, pupils no longer have needs. If necessary, re-refer, alongside continuing in-school interventions.

  • Technology

Technology can be challenging and time-consuming. Fast-moving changes include helpful and wellpriced SLCN apps and resources (voice recorders, speech-to-text tools, widget symbols, audiobooks, etc.).

Hopefully, this whistle-stop tour of barriers and solutions is helpful – DM me for a free 30-minute meeting/chat.

Access freebies/CPD materials at:

My Facebook Group: offers SENCo wellbeing – and a bit of ranting!

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