Review: Glynnis Smith,
Reviewed in Support for Learning:
British Journal of Learning Support (August 2010)
This publication is described as a resource manual to enable schools to
support children with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN). The
introduction makes it clear that children with speech, language and
communication needs are sometimes difficult to identify and this can lead to
disengagement and underachievement. The aim of the resource manual is to
prevent this happening using a whole school, inclusive approach to SLCN. The
material manages to deal successfully with the whole school issue and
There is a wealth of material to draw upon in the manual and the authors
have provided guidance and a coding system to help the practitioner in their
selection. The main aim of the material is to develop active listening
skills and Section 1 of the file focuses on creating a safe environment for
children to do this. Two sections (steps 1 and 6) within the manual are
intended for general classroom use and include a range of activities and
useful strategies. The remainder of the material focuses on children with
additional educational needs and step 2 provides a collection of screening
and assessment material. Step 2 exemplifies the quality of this resource.
Sound guidance and explanations underpin the materials throughout this
section. The language is always accessible and it feels as if the authors
are able to forecast the next question posed by the reader. The materials
were trialled prior to publication and this could account for their
usefulness and readability.
Step 2 leads on to planning for both individual and group needs. It is at
this stage that the flexibility and scope of the material becomes evident.
The materials cover a wide age range and include individual work, small
group work and activities suitable for children and with delayed language
development in Early Years settings. Step 3 focuses on linking language to
social interaction: step 4 addressed the concepts of understanding and
knowledge and step 5 is about developing clarification skills. Each activity
is well set out using a common template, coded for mode of delivery: further
useful resources are signposted and practitioners are occasionally alerted
to a specific teaching point. Each section also includes strategies to use.
The photocopiable resources for each section are grouped together and
listed. The materials are well organised and easily located, and should
therefore prove useful to schools that wish to improve their provision in
One theme that is raised throughout is the over-reliance of children with
speech, language and communication needs on adult help. The guidance that
fronts step 4 discusses children with comprehension difficulties and how
they are so used to being confused that they develop and expectation that
the adult will tell them if they are right or wrong: ‘They become passive in
that they expect failure, readily accept correction and do not query
explanations'’(p. 179). The guidance for adults is extremely useful and
should encourage reflection no how we provide support in addition to the
‘when’ and ‘why’.
This is a valuable resource, both useful and practical. In the current
context where Early Years practitioners express their concern about the
numbers of children with speech, language and communication needs, this is a
resource that could be adopted by a school and used with all teaching staff.
The material is underpinned by a theoretical understanding of what is needed
to develop active learners and one of the authors, Maggie Johnson, is well
known nationally for her work in this area.
In summary, this is an excellent publication. One has to appreciate and
respect the amount of work that has gone into the manual and how the authors
have managed to organise such a breadth of material in an engaging and
£69.50 FREE postage
Review: in Special Needs
Information Press (SNIP)
This is a magnificent resource - more than 400
pages presented in a lever arch file, crammed full of ideas and strategies
to promote pupil involvement in their learning. Although aimed at primary
pupils it would have great value in KS3 also.
The resource seeks to promote the provision of a safe environment where
pupils are enabled to seek clarification when they do not understand. It
then moves on to identification and response to the variety of language and
communication barriers that may underlie reluctance to participate and
provides detailed individual, group and classroom strategies and activities
to overcome barriers to success.
The pack would be of enormous value to support and training agencies
asked for advice to increase the success of all pupils, but particularly
those with special educational needs with undiagnosed language and
communication deficits. It would also provide an invaluable resource for
schools looking to supplement the Inclusion Development Programme on speech,
language and communication needs as well as speech and language therapists
who work with schools.
£69.50 FREE postage
Jill McMinn, Advisory Teacher SLCD
In Active Listening for Active Learning Maggie and Carolyn share a
range of effective strategies to help all children in mainstream and
specialist settings. Although the resource has been developed primarily for
4-12 year-olds the principles apply to all age groups. Many of the
activities can be introduced in pre-school settings, adapted for older
students or used with teenagers with special needs.
The publication comes as a loose leaf file clearly organised into six
- Creating a safe environment
- Further investigation and planning
- Linking language to social interaction
- Concepts to understanding and knowledge
- Developing classification skills
- Maintaining listening skills
Each part has its own resource section, many of which are photocopiable.
It gives a clear overview and structure for teachers to follow and can be
used for a whole school/class approach, to support individual education
plans and provide additional activities for pupils with specific attention
and listening problems.
It provides a complete programme for observation and assessment, planning
and intervention and photocopiable charts and record sheets are included.
The resource aims to help children clear two-way communication, improve
their attention and listening skills, develop and trust their judgement,
view mistakes as part of the learning process, and seek help in an
appropriate and timely manner.
I am being increasingly asked about helping children accept that mistakes
are an essential part of learning so am particularly glad to see this
The layout and style of the file are very clear and additional teaching
points are set in shaded boxes for emphasis and ease of reading. The loose
leaf nature facilitates easy photocopying.
Even for those of us familiar with Maggie’s work in this area and have
used some of the strategies and materials included here before, it is so
very useful to have it all gathered together in one publication.
At £69.50 it is quite costly but well worth the price. I will be
enthusiastically recommending it both to mainstream schools and to
specialist settings in my area.