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School of Health Sciences

The effectiveness of a school-based speech and language therapy intervention for enhancing language and communication delivered by school staff under the guidance of a speech and language therapist

Supervisors

1st supervisor: Professor Victoria Joffe

2nd supervisor: Emma Pagnamenta

Research centre

Language and Communication Science

Project description

Speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) are the most common type of special education need in schools (Department of Education 2013). Communication difficulties put children at greater risk of poor literacy, academic attainment, mental health and employment outcomes in adulthood (Law et al 2009).

Speech and Language Therapists (SLT) play a key role in the assessment and management of SLCN. For school aged children, current practice commonly involves the consultancy model: delivery of ‘indirect’ interventions through school staff, such as teaching assistants.

There is little evidence, however, for the delivery of speech and language interventions in this way. Boyle et al (2007) in a randomised controlled trial of language intervention for children with SLCN found no difference in outcomes if this was delivered by SLTs or trained speech and language assistants. This result was not replicated when the same intervention was delivered by classroom staff, at a lower intensity (McCartney et al 2010),

Therefore, there is a clear mismatch between practice and the evidence base for meeting the needs of this group of children. 

The aims of the PhD will be to:
1)Conduct a systematic review of the evidence base for the effectiveness of ‘indirect’ speech and language therapy for school aged children with SLCN, and
2)Use the evidence base to measure the effectiveness of a consultancy model of language intervention for primary school aged children, delivered by school staff, under the guidance of a Speech and Language Therapist.

Recommended Skills / Prior Learning

  1. Degree (2.1or above) in a related area: speech and language therapy, psychology, education (essential)
  2. Excellent communication and interviewing skills (essential)
  3. Prior experience of working with children with speech language and communication needs in this age-group (desirable)