Agenda item

Future Provision of Specialist Speech and Language Therapy Services into Primary Schools

(To receive a report which invites the Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee to consider the Executive Councillor Report on the Future Provision of Specialist Speech and Language Therapy Services in Primary Schools which is due to be considered by the Executive Councillor for Adult Care and Health Services, Children's Services on 10 June 2016)


The Committee was invited to consider a report which set out a proposal to change the way in which speech and language therapy services were delivered within school settings in Lincolnshire.  Members were advised that the proposal would see the closure of three dedicated speech and language units located at Fosse Way primary, Lincoln; Monkshouse Primary, Spalding; and Mablethorpe Primary, Mablethorpe.


It was reported that for children at primary age, the authority currently commissioned the above schools to provide at a single location the educational and therapeutic support to children with complex speech and language difficulties.  There were 23 children at these schools who received intensive speech and language therapy and educational support services.


Members were advised that the alternative model would be 'needs led' and individual children would be taken through the assessment process for an Education Health and Care Plan (ECHP).  It was proposed that Speech and Language Therapists, together with Specialist Teachers (for Speech and Language) would assess the needs of children and then work with the local mainstream primary school to implement strategies and support packages to aid their development.


The Committee was provided with the opportunity to ask questions to the officers present in relation to the information contained within the report and some of the points raised during discussion included the following:

·         Members were advised that as the number of children affected by these proposals was so small, officers had been able to engage with families on an individual level.  Some families indicated that they wished their children to stay at the school they were on roll at whilst others would prefer to attend a more local school.  It was recognised that there would be a need for transitional arrangements.

·         The majority of schools supported a more inclusive approach.

·         One member commented that this felt like the right thing to do as they felt that children should be educated in their local area. 

·         It was commented that some of the children in the units had been allowed to reach a point where they were failing in mainstream school before there was any intervention. 

·         It was agreed that children staying in mainstream school was the right approach, but concerns were raised regarding how the model would be implemented, for example recruitment, capacity etc. and whether this would lead to a diluted offer.  Members were advised that these services would be provided through LCHS, and discussions in terms of recruitment had been positive, and it was hoped the services would continue to be delivered within the existing budget.  It was also noted that this model was now embedded within secondary schools

·         The contract currently required 50% of the time in the school classroom and the other 50% in the unit, regardless of whether the child needed to spend that amount of time in the unit.   Under the proposal, there would be additional teaching assistant capacity, and services would be delivered mainly through interventions funded by the EHC plan.

·         It was commented that the speech and language therapists did an excellent job, and it was queried how many more would be required to cover the whole county.  Members were advised that LCHS was working on this, and it was reported that they were relatively successful at recruiting these specialists, and were used to having to travel to meet dispersed needs.  The LCHS would build on what was already being done in secondary schools.

·         It was highlighted that 70% of the feedback did not support the change to the provision.  However, members were advised that this included feedback from schools which had not made referrals.

·         It was agreed that there was a need to keep children in school, and it was suggested that taking children out of class for additional needs which labelled them as 'special' tended to have a negative impact.  It was felt that the proposed model would enable children to receive support without identifying the child as 'different'.

·         The Speech and Language Specialists would monitor the outcomes of each individual child.

·         It was noted that children did make good progress in the units, but they also made good progress in mainstream schools.  Not all children with high needs chose to attend one of these units but remained in mainstream schools.  Members were advised that the units covered a wide range of needs and not just higher speech and language needs.




1.    That the Committee support the recommendations to the Deputy Leader of the Council as set out in the report.

2.    That the additional comments detailed above be passed to the Deputy Leader of the Council.

3.    That a visits be arranged for Members to the Hearing Impaired Unit.

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