Speech & Language Therapy

Speech & Language Therapy

Speech and Language Therapists at Dysart School work across two main areas:

  • Communication
  • Eating, Drinking and Swallowing


We support all staff, parents and pupils in the school to:

–  Help pupils to fulfil their communicative potential;

–  Promote language and communication skills within the classroom, wider school environment and home;

–  Enable pupils to access the curriculum, learn and make progress;

–  Support the development of pupils’ skills in the following areas:

  • Attention and Listening
  • Understanding and use (expression) of language
  • Spontaneous and independent (functional) communication
  • Speech clarity
  • Social interaction & communication
  • Use of alternative methods of communication e.g. PECS, Aided Language Displays, PODD, high-tech communication aids.

Eating, Drinking and Swallowing

We aim to maximise pupils’ safe eating, drinking and swallowing skills, including:

–  Accepting/tolerating different textures and tastes of foods and drinks

–  Chewing

–  Swallowing

How we work

Speech and Language Therapy at Dysart provides a range of evidence-based interventions, through collaborative working with parents/carers, education staff and other professionals within Dysart School. Our current approach is in line with best practice guidelines provided by our governing body, The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists. Our input is based on each individual pupil’s needs.   In line with the recent review of therapy services in the boroughs of Kingston and Richmond, the speech and language therapy team base their approach on the Balanced Model Framework © AfC Info website – Kingston and Richmond :: Local Offer / Information And Advice / SEND Consultation Hub / Kingston and Richmond (both borough) consultations / Therapies Review.

Universal Speech and Language Therapy Supports at Dysart School

The speech and language therapy team offer a universal level of support to all pupils at Dysart school. This is continuously reviewed based on the needs of the Dysart community. Through this approach, the speech and language therapy team aim to empower parents/carers and school staff to understand their individual child/pupil’s needs and implement strategies/systems that support pupils to meet their communicative potential.

This currently includes:

  • Observations in class to ensure that therapeutic approaches are embedded into the classroom and each pupil has access to a communication friendly environment.
  • Observations at mealtimes to ensure that pupils with eating, drinking and swallowing needs have access to a calm environment free of distractions, in order to optimise their safety when eating and drinking.
  • Meetings with class teachers to feedback on classroom environment and to discuss pupils’ communication needs.
  • Planning and making resources to be used across the school, e.g. visual timetables, emotions charts, Aided Language Displays, colourful semantics and other visual supports.
  • Delivering a robust training offer for parents and staff to ensure communication and interaction strategies are embedded within the curriculum and across the school and home environments. Delivering a training offer to staff to ensure that they are aware of the signs of eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties and are confident with implementing appropriate strategies to ensure pupil’s safe eating, drinking and swallowing at mealtimes.

Targeted/Specialist Supports at Dysart School

At times your child may require additional support from the speech and language therapy team. School can raise this to the speech and language therapy team through completing a “Request for Support”. This may occur when:

  • Your child is moving from one key stage to another, e.g., Key Stage 2 (Year 2) to Key Stage 3 (Year 3) or leaving Dysart School;
  • Your child’s communication or eating, drinking and swallowing skills have been identified as requiring further assessment.

If this occurs the speech and language therapy team will complete an up to date assessment of your child’s communication and/or eating, drinking and swallowing strengths and needs in order to determine a plan of support (i.e. provide advice, identify new strategies/systems/approaches to implement and/or identifying training needs of parents/staff)

Your child will then return to the universal level of support once this period of assessment/intervention has been completed. However, for students who have complex eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties they will often remain on this level of support long term, for regular reviews.

New Pupils at Dysart

If your child is new to Dysart they will receive an introductory assessment package from the speech and language therapy team. This will include:

  • Review of previous information related to your child;
  • Observations of your child in class;
  • An assessment session with the speech and language therapist;
  • Provision of strategies/recommendations to class staff and parents/carers;
  • Contribution towards target setting and provision needs for your child’s first annual review.

Pupils Leaving Dysart

When it is time for a pupil to leave Dysart, the speech and language therapy team will complete an assessment package again to ensure that the information about your child’s communication and/or eating, drinking and swallowing strengths and needs is up to date. This will be shared with the appropriate people to ensure the change is as easy as possible for parents/carers and the child/young adult.


The Team provides regular training on communication and eating, drinking and swallowing to all school staff in order for them to be kept up to date with relevant and evidence-based therapy programs and strategies, for use within the classroom.

Specific areas of training can include:

  • Attention skills e.g. Attention Autism activities devised by Gina Davies
  • Interaction e.g. Intensive Interaction by Dave Hewitt
  • Paper-based forms of Alternative or Augmentative Communication (AAC) e.g. Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), Aided Language Displays (ALDs), Communication Books and Pragmatic Organisation Dynamic Display (PODD)
  • Understanding and Using Language e.g. Colourful Semantics, Makaton Signing
  • Social Communication skills e.g. Social Stories
  • High Tech Voice Output Communication Aids e.g. Eye Gaze devices, iPad-based communication software
  • Basic Aspiration Awareness (Awareness of eating, drinking and swallowing needs)

We are also exploring a trial of parent workshops in the coming academic year!

The Speech and Language Team

Nicole, Heini, Margo, Natasha

Margo Keegan, Speech and Language Therapist

Hello, I’m Margo!

I’ve worked as a speech and language for several years now across a range of different settings (early years, mainstream schools, special schools and colleges). I am very passionate about supporting young people with speech, language and communication needs to meet their learning and communication potential. I really enjoy working as part of the school team and I am always happy to help!

Please just send us an email or pass a message to your child’s class teacher. We will get back to you as soon as we can! 😊

Natasha Simeone, Speech and Language Therapist

Hello, my name is Natasha.

I am one of the speech and language therapist at Dysart. I have worked in early years and mainstream schools and colleges.

I am passionate about working with families, teachers and young people to encourage and develop a child’s speech, language and communication skills. I particularly enjoy captivating a child’s interest by using fun and messy activities!

I am always happy to help, so please do get in touch via email or through the class teacher if you would like to have a chat.

Nicole Walpole, Speech and Language Therapy Assistant

Hi, I’m Nicole!

I’ve been working with students who have special needs for 19 years and have been a speech and language therapy assistant for the past 5 years.

I enjoy working with all the children at Dysart school and I love all things AAC!

Heini Furrer, AAC Specialist

Hello, my name is Heini,

I am an assistive technology professional with a particular interest in augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). In other words, I use technology in its many forms to enable communication for those students who are unable to use speech. In my role I work closely with education and healthcare professionals and students and their wider social circles. I am part of the glue that holds the entire process together.

I am motivated by my firm beliefs that every student at Dysart School has something to say; that every student is capable of saying it if only we could unlock their means of communication; that it’s never too early to start with AAC and, equally, it’s never too late; that even if a method has failed in the past, it’s always worth another try.  Most of all, I believe that if, despite all our endeavours, a student fails to develop communication, it is never, never, never the fault of the student. AAC as a discipline is still in its infancy, and there is so much that we do not know but we must keep trying for every student.

If you have any questions or would like advice about how to support your child’s communication or eating, drinking and swallowing at home, please contact the Speech and Language Therapy Team at SALT-Dysart@dysartschool.org


You are rightly proud of your work around pupil wellbeing, and ensuring pupils are ready for learning.  This has enabled you to establish a calm and purposeful learning environment for pupils with considerable needs.

Ofsted 2018

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