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Developing a language support model for mainstream primary school teachers

McCartney, Elspeth and Boyle, James and Ellis, Sue and Turnbull, Mary and Kerr, J. (2010) Developing a language support model for mainstream primary school teachers. Child Language Teaching and Therapy, 26 (3). pp. 359-374. ISSN 0265-6590

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Abstract

In the UK, speech and language therapists (SLTs) work with teachers to support children with language impairment (LI) in mainstream schools. Consultancy approaches are often used, where SLTs advise educational staff who then deliver language-learning activities. However, some research suggests that schools may not always sustain activities as planned. There is a need to consider teachers' views on implementing consultancy approaches, and use these to develop practical means to set-up, monitor and evaluate classroom-based language-learning activities, developing a 'language support model' useful to teachers. The small-scale study described aimed to investigate and analyse teachers' and SLTs' views, and to use these to develop a language support model suited to the ecology of the primary classroom. A small-scale participatory evaluation study is reported. Participants were three community SLTs, and mainstream primary teachers experienced with children with LI: four teachers from one authority who had been involved in a previous language-learning trial, and 15 teachers from three other authorities. Methods were short questionnaire, group interview and iterative document revision. On the basis of participants' views, a flexible language support model was developed. This model outlines school and SLT actions needed to implement and monitor language activities and to check progress, with related materials for teachers. The language support model reflected participants' views of the realities of classroom work, and the materials were judged useful to teachers. They have been edited and published for general use.