Working with East Sussex Teams for 20 Years

Building the Partnership

East Sussex schools have been using Speech Link and Language Link from 2004 since their launch by Speech Link Multimedia Ltd. East Sussex Children’s Integrated Therapy and Equipment Service (CITES), the Communication, Language and Autism Support Service (CLASS) and Speech Link Multimedia Ltd have a strong ongoing relationship. All schools were paying individually for their Speech Link and Language Link annual subscriptions.

In 2020, CITES planned for all schools to have access to the assessments, training and interventions in Speech Link and Language Link. While most of the 152 primary schools were already subscribing to Speech Link and Language Link, CITES bought new Speech Link, Infant Language Link and Junior Language Link licences as necessary, and renewed all other subscriptions for 12 months. Secondary Language Link licences were purchased for all 27 secondary schools.

Project Principals and Objectives: 

CITES decided to devise a co-produced therapy model with partners for secondary schools to improve outcomes for students. Access to effective resources was central to the new model and Secondary Language Link with its integral training was chosen to make it easier for schools to identify and support students with language and communication needs.  

Also, CITES introduced a ‘therapy one point’ duty system to manage the schools’ needs. Schools were required to carry out screening of the pupil’s speech and language needs and evaluate after 12 weeks of intervention, prior to consideration for specialist referral to SLT (see https://www.eastsussexmatrix.co.uk/).

This filters out the borderline/mild/moderate children who can be managed through universal strategies and targeted interventions, while the NHS team focuses on the children with more severe and specific needs.  These children would otherwise have taken an INA slot and likely been discharged with advice only. 

It was essential to encourage and enthuse school staff to adopt the use of Speech Link and Language Link, so that all schools had access to and used the assessment, interventions and training needed to support pupils with SLCN.

The objectives were: 

  • To continue an ongoing, productive relationship with the East Sussex local specialist teams.
  • To give school staff the confidence, through training, that they have identified ALL pupils’ level of need correctly and understand the implications of those needs. 
  • To empower schools to support in-school those pupils with mild/moderate speech and language difficulties.  

Key Issues and how they were managed: 

The Speech Link Multimedia Ltd team worked with the East Sussex project to produce bespoke online training. The pandemic changed how we delivered training.

Help Desk support, from our friendly and supportive team who always answer the phone and emails, overcame school staff’s initial concerns about signing into online training. The business remained fully open during the pandemic and the Help Desk team was available for all schools, so we didn’t pause our support of schools that were still supporting pupils with SLCN.  

The SLT team’s training experience meant that training content was already prepared and conversion to online delivery was very quick to arrange. All training was delivered in June/July 2020, with update training in Spring 2021. 

Successful Outcomes and Key Targets and Project Measures: 

SLTs delivering training provide an overview and background to SLCN beyond the use of Speech Link and Language Link.

As a result of Language Link assessment, approximately 400 primary pupils were flagged for discussion with SLT services each year. Appropriate training means school staff have an understanding of why this is important, confidence that the right children are being discussed and are able to implement the 12 weeks’ intervention specified by local services before discussion can take place. 

Approximately 150 secondary pupils were flagged for discussion with SLT services each year. Local protocols about prior intervention also apply here and school staff are able to deliver this and monitor progress. Identification of any unidentified speech and language issues allows children and young people to receive the correct support and, in some cases, explain/avoid a SEMH label.

In March 2024, 151 Primary Secondary schools in East Sussex are still paying individually (using their Pupil Premium) to subscribe to Speech Link and Language Link.