1st Edition

Communication at the Heart of the School A Guide for Practitioners Working with Children with Learning Disabilities

By Rachel Sawford, Ann Miles Copyright 2021
    136 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Speechmark

    136 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Speechmark

    Communication at the Heart of the School introduces a simple, practical approach for communication development in schools, with a specific focus on children with Severe Learning Difficulties (SLD) or Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties (PMLD).

    The tried-and-tested framework offers a shared approach to communication development between teachers and speech and language therapists, moving through three crucial stages: the communication assessment, the communication pathway and the classroom environment. It provides a clear structure for the role of each professional and explains how they contribute to every aspect of the child’s communication development.

    Key features include:

    1. A communication pathway that follows a yearly cycle of assessment, plan and intervention, identifying specific communication needs and offering advice on creating communication-friendly environments
    2. A focus on the shared vision of teachers and speech and language therapists, creating a united and team-led approach to communication development, ensuring that both therapists and teachers feel supported in tackling complex communication challenges effectively
    3. Photocopiable and downloadable assessment forms for accurately measuring outcomes in a time-friendly and accessible way

    Underpinned by the Communication and Cognitive Framework currently used by teachers, speech and language therapists and families, this resource offers a complete package of communication support. It is an essential tool for speech and language therapists and teachers supporting children communicating at early developmental levels.

    Chapter 1 Working Together  Chapter 2 The Framework  Chapter 3  Assessment  Appendix 3.1 Example of a Completed Communication Assessment Band 2  Appendix 3.2 Example of a Completed Communication Assessment Band 3  Chapter 4 The Pathway to Successful Intervention  Chapter 5 Communication Rich Classrooms  Chapter 6 Specialist Intervention  Chapter 7 Putting Communication at the Heart of the School into Practice  Appendix 7.1 AB’S Timetable  Appendix 7.2 Example of Letter Informing Families About Changes in the Speech and Language Therapy Approach in School


    Rachel Sawford is a highly specialist speech and language therapist who helps schools to address the challenges of developing communication for children with a Learning Disability.

    Rachel believes that speech and language therapists have the biggest impact when they give time to developing good-quality environments where all children can benefit. She recognises that all those around the child have a role to play in supporting their communication.

    Rachel is currently working in schools to implement the whole Communication at the Heart of the School approach (CATHS). This involves offering bespoke training and help in embedding the approach in the curriculum. She continues to support other therapists working with CATHS in a variety of other settings including in mainstream and adults with Learning Disabilities.

    Rachel and Ann have also written a very popular signing course and manual based on the CATHS principles called Developing and Using Signing published by The Signalong Group.

    Rachel enjoys nothing more than spending time with her husband and children.

    Ann Miles is a special education teacher who spent her career working in schools for children with Learning Disabilities. Drawing upon her classroom experience and extensive knowledge of early communication, she has packaged up all the elements of CATHS to share with other professionals.

    Ann is a firm believer that for communication to be successful it needs to be both natural and meaningful. The development of communication skills should be embedded within all aspects of teaching and the curriculum.

    Ann worked with Clare Latham on the original assessment in Developing Communication (Fulton 1997) and then on communication within the curriculum in Communication, Curriculum and Classroom Practice (Fulton 2000).

    After meeting Rachel, they worked closely together refining and developing the approach that is now CATHS.

    She spends her free time attempting to grow vegetables and dinghy sailing.

    'Throughout the book the author’s experience and dedication to both the children in their care and their colleagues, shines through. From the careful explanation of the framework, how to assess and build meaningful individual plans, to creating successful communicative and learning classrooms, this book is clear; it inspires and it is inclusive.'

    Clare Latham, MRCSLT


    'Communication at the Heart of the School is really accessible and, from the perspective of a school leader wanting an inclusive approach, it is very straightforward. CATHS could be easily implemented into any School Improvement Plan.' 

    Lisa Leonard, Head Teacher The Chiltern School