Heartsease Specialist Resource Base for Speech, Language and Communication Needs
“Provision is exceptionally effective” (OFSTED, May 2016).
“We really are so grateful to you for effectively being the key to unlocking our child” (parent, July 2017)
“To all of you in Ruby class – Thank you so much for your amazing commitment and dedication…. I’ll always remember Danielle saying ‘parents never want their children to come here, then when they do, they don’t want them to leave’… and she was right!” (parent, July 2017)
“Whenever we go to parties with the Ruby class kids they come alive way more than when I’ve seen them with home school kids”. (parent, September 2019)
Ruby class is Heartsease’s Speech, Language and Communication Needs Specialist Resource Base (SLCN SRB). It is one of five SLCN SRBs in Norfolk. We support children with severe, persisting speech disorders and / or expressive language disorders. 10 children from Reception and Key Stage 1 (ages 4-7) attend the class from Monday to Thursday, returning to their mainstream (‘home’) schools every Friday.
A summary of how the SRB works can be found in the leaflet for parents:-
The SRB is run by Danielle Epurescu, a qualified teacher who has a diploma in Language and Communication Impairments in Children. She is supported by two Learning Support Assistants (TAs), Julie Oxborrow and Ali Dennis. Ali has the foundation level Signalong qualification and both have the level 3 ELKLAN qualification. Two speech and language therapists (SLTs), Louisa Spence and Abby Dalgleish, work in the SRB for two half days each.
Ruby class has its own classroom within Heartsease Primary Academy, which is laid out to support the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and Key Stage 1 (KS1) curriculum. A room within the room is used for one-to-one speech and language therapy by Louisa and Abby and follow-up work by a TA. We also have full access to the rest of the school’s facilities, including the swimming pool and our on-site forest for Forest School.
Developing speech and language skills
Generally, children have one-to-one therapy from Louisa or Abby twice a week. Two further one-to-one sessions are lead by a TA, under the SLT’s guidance. Alongside this individual therapy, children’s skills are developed and enhanced by integrating their speech and language targets into all aspects of learning. Regular Show and Tell sessions further develop their oral skills.
Teaching topics are chosen each term to stimulate the children’s interest and support their learning through the EYFS and KS1 curriculum. Work is tailored to each child’s age, stage, strengths and weaknesses to ensure personalised learning for all. In addition, motor skills are developed through classroom activities, Forest School, PE and swimming.
Inclusion in mainstream classes
SRB children spend each Friday in their home school. Danielle visits them once a term to support their class teachers and ensure successful inclusion on these days. In addition, SRB children are integrated into mainstream classes within Heartsease when appropriate – this may be through participation in streamed phonics groups, or joining mainstream classes for maths. Ruby class participate in mainstream break, lunch, assemblies and special events including Christmas performances. The children wear the Heartsease uniform in order to feel, and be regarded as, part of the school.
Placement in the SRB
Throughout the process, there is liaison between the SRB, home school, speech and language therapy service and parents. Generally, an SLT will suggest that a place should be considered, but schools can also contact the SRB to discuss individual cases. Before applying, the home school is expected to contact the SRB and Danielle will visit the child in school. The child will need to have been assessed by a Speech and Language Therapist, who will provide information for the admissions panel alongside the application by the child’s home school. The report and application will provide evidence that the child’s difficulties fit with Norfolk’s criteria for placement (further details can be found on the Norfolk Schools’ website – click here: http://www.schools.norfolk.gov.uk/Pupil-needs/Specialist-Resource-Bases/NCC180734
Parents are welcome to visit Ruby class to see what we do. Once a place has been approved by the SRB panel, the parents are invited to bring their child for a transition visit to meet the other children, see the school and learn about Ruby class’ routines.
Further information useful to schools can be found on the Norfolk Schools’ website – either search ‘SRB’ or click here: http://search3.openobjects.com/kb5/ncc/schools/results.page?qt=SRB
The SRB communicates with parents every day, with a summary of the day’s activities in the classroom. Parents are encouraged to write back with any concerns or successes. Review meetings are arranged at Heartsease each term, with parents, the home school, Danielle and Louisa attending. Danielle’s visit to the home school falls in the alternative half term, so home schools have half termly contact. School attainment and attendance data are regularly provided to the home school. Additional informal contact with parents and schools is available through emails, phone calls or open afternoons.
When a child is ready to leave the SRB, transition is discussed in a review meeting and decisions are made in the best interests of the child – either to continue attending the SRB four days a week, or to make a gradual transition with an increased number of days in the home school. A final meeting, in the last half term before transition, ensures that everyone knows what the child has achieved. At this point, any ongoing support needed in the home school can be planned.
Louisa and Abby write, monitor and evaluate termly speech and language targets which are shared with the parents and home school. In addition, staff are aware of individuals’ small steps along the way so these can be worked on continuously. The SLTs use standardised and non-standardised tests to monitor progress.
Children’s strengths and weaknesses are considered in all areas, so learning across the curriculum, particularly in English and Maths and any additional motor skills, is tailored to the individual. Progress is recorded for each individual in all 17 EYFS areas or reading, writing and maths for KS1. Progress is moderated with other SRB teachers and outcomes of this are reported to Norfolk County Council.
Outreach support and training
The five SLCN SRBs have an additional teacher, Tracey Woods, whose role is dedicated to outreach and training across Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2.
Schools can also contact Danielle Epurescu at Heartsease with SLCN queries.
The SRB’s teacher and TAs share their skills and knowledge throughout the mainstream school, offering informal consultation to colleagues; supporting mainstream pupils in streamed phonics lessons or in their mainstream classes.
To arrange a visit or discuss a potential referral:
Danielle Epurescu, SRB teacher / manager
For outreach support and training:
Hall School, Old Catton, Norwich.
01603 466 467
For compliments or complaints:
Alex Burrell, Heartsease Primary Academy Headteacher