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Perception of language impairment for students attending mainstream secondary school

French, Ann (2007) Perception of language impairment for students attending mainstream secondary school. [Conference or Workshop Item] (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Offering a supportive and inclusive educational environment to students with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) requires professional collaboration. Practical barriers to collaboration have been identified (Hartras, 2004) but other barriers may arise from a lack of shared beliefs and values (Law et al, 2000). Professionals from different backgrounds (e.g. health v. education) may have different understandings of students’ needs as a result of differences in training and experience. Law et al call for improved initial training to prepare professional groups for effective collaboration, and I CAN (2000) have produced a framework to meet this need. However, most discussion on educational collaboration focuses on the primary sector and/or special secondary provision, with little attention to the mainstream secondary sector. Major differences between the two sectors include the greater numbers of teachers and students and the smaller amount of class contact between pupils and individual teachers in the secondary setting, together with the focus on specialist subjects both during secondary teacher training and in the classroom. In this context it is likely to be very difficult for health professionals and teachers to establish effective relationships. If, in addition, beliefs and values about language development and language impairment are not shared, the potential for a breakdown in professional relationships is high. The aim of this study was to explore similarities and differences in perspectives on: The nature of language impairment; Its impact on educational development; How it should be managed, including both learning and assessment.

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