Communication/ Speech and Language

Pitcheroak School is a SIGNING school and Signalong, in support of other communication strategies is used in school to empower our young people to understand and express their needs, to make independent choices and support the development of language skills.

By using Signalong, we meet the following objectives :

  • To give greater independence to pupils
  • To reduce feelings of frustration and episodes of challenging behaviour
  • To improve pupils’ self- esteem
  • To Improve relationships between pupils and between staff and pupils
  • To encourage greater levels of social and academic inclusion for pupils

Those pupils who are unable to communicate effectively using speech require another avenue to enable them to have a voice. Natural gesture supported by body language, facial expression and tone of voice are all used by every one of us to convey meaning. Signalong is an unaided augmentative form of communication that supports expressive and receptive language skills.

  • Signalong enables communication.
  • Signalong is appropriate for a range of disabilities.
  • Signalong supports ‘multi-channel input’ supporting auditory messages that are not processed quickly.
  • Signalong encourages eye contact and concentration.
  • Signalong requires NO additional equipment.

Collectively the population of pupils at Pitcheroak cover a broad spectrum of Speech, Language and or Communication difficulties. It is therefore crucial that every member of staff gains a working knowledge of Signalong, even in an environment where speech is the universal means of communication.

All staff that work at Pitcheraok School are each Augmentative and Alternative Communication users ensuring equality of opportunity and social inclusion for our entire community.

Speech and Language Therapy at Pitcheroak


Dani, our Speech and Language Therapist

We are fortunate that we work with an NHS speech and language therapist at Pitcheroak. We feel that developing communication skills is a shared responsibility and the best way of helping your child’s communication skills is by parents, carers, teaching staff and therapists working together. This involves sharing information and practical ideas on how to help. Communication difficulties are often more appropriately managed in the classroom and at home, where skills can be developed in a meaningful environment. To find out some more handy tips from our therapists please click on the link below.

Leaflet- Pitcheroak October 2018…

Autism & Complex Communication Needs (CCN)

Autism is a lifelong developmental condition that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people. It also affects how they experience and perceive the world around them.

It is a spectrum condition, which means that, while all people with autism share four key areas of difference/difficulty and the impact of differences within each of the four areas may affect them differently. Some people with autism are able to live independent lives but others may need a lifetime of specialist support.

The four areas of difference that are particularly important for staff in schools and educational settings to understand are:-

  • Understanding and using social interactive style and emotional expression of staff, self and peers.
  • Understanding and using communication and language – both verbal and non-verbal.
  • Differences in how information is processed can lead to a strict adherence to routines and rules and/or difficulties in planning and personal memory, children and young people on the autism spectrum have difficulties in predicting what will happen when a familiar timetable or activity is changes. Conversely, such styles of processing can lead to strengths and abilities in a number of areas (often related to factual memory or areas of interest and motivation).
  • Differences in the way sensory information is processed often leading to over sensitivities (often to external stimuli such a lighting, smells, or sounds), and under sensitivities (often not noticing internal feelings such as pain, body awareness and hunger, until they become overwhelming). It should be noted that sensory sensitivities can lead to ‘extreme levels of stress and anxiety in unfamiliar or over-stimulating environments’ (taken from the AET National Autism Standards, 2012)

Children and young people with Complex Communication Needs will have difficulties which present as similar to autism but they do not have a formal diagnosis, there may well be a suspicion of autism.

To read about the Local Offer for Speech, Language and Communication Needs in Worcestershire Special Schools – please click here to download…