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Identifying the educational and social needs of children with specific speech and language difficulties on entry to secondary school

By Julie Dockrell and Geoff Lindsay


Movement from KS2 to KS3 creates a number of challenges for pupils. For children with additional learning needs the change of academic pace, social contacts and, typically, school may pose additional problems. This change may be particularly problematic for children with specific speech and language difficulties (SSLD). This study examines the ways in which parents, pupils and teachers appraise this transition prior to secondary transfer (Year 6) and during the first year of secondary school (Yr7) for a cohort of children with a history of specific language impairment. The use of comparison groups provides the opportunity to discriminate between factors related to a) change of school b) special educational needs generally and c) language difficulties specifically. Children with SSLD were initially identified in Year 3 (N=69), with the majority of pupils in mainstream settings. In Year 6 (mean age 10; 3) children were assessed on a range of language literacy and cognitive measures and the views of their parents’ and teachers’ about needs, curriculum differentiation and support established. Teachers were also asked to consider the difficulties that the children might experience on entry to secondary school. During Year 7 data were collected from form tutors, SENCOs and secondary subject specialists. Perceptions of need are compared with level of need as evidenced by standardised assessments. A critical analysis of the ways in which these children’s needs are addressed in the secondary school system is provided and the paper outlines current strengths and gaps in provision

Year: 2007
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