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Leeds Trinity University addresses gap in the market with new speech, language and communication course

Leeds Trinity University has worked in partnership with the Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust to develop a practice-based course designed to better meet the needs of children with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN).  

The Advanced Practice in Speech Language and Communication Needs postgraduate qualification will be delivered at the University from September 2023 .  It is designed to improve the professional development available to staff in early years settings, schools, special needs education, alternative provision, the NHS and youth offending teams.  

The qualification has been developed in response to calls by educational leaders who need sustainable alternatives to help meet the complex SLCN in their schools by developing their own in-house provision.  The NHS does not have an accredited course for Speech and Language Assistants and the Leeds Trust has highlighted a major gap in the market, making this course highly suitable for prospective candidates or those who are new to the profession in Leeds and other NHS Trusts. 

At present, due to access issues to NHS Speech and Language Therapists, education settings are often buying in significant additional traded services to fill this gap. For example, a typical primary school with three classes in each year group is funding three days of speech and language therapy at a cost of around £36,000 locally. This may not be sustainable in the long-term and does not help to develop whole school expertise in special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).  

The new course will train school, early years, and education-based staff to deliver interventions and identification processes, and how to develop provision in a setting. It is hoped that by having trained staff in schools, the need for Speech and Language Therapy (SALT) input will decrease and settings will develop advanced levels of early intervention to stop issues spiralling for those in need.

Bev Peartree, Associate Professor (Professional Practice) at Leeds Trinity University, said: “The needs of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities have increased due to the impact of the pandemic. Schools and settings need high-quality training and education in areas such as speech and language to meet these needs. 

“If every setting had a lead practitioner in speech and language, many of these children and young people would avoid developing social, emotional and mental health needs, make improved progress in school and be much happier in their education. This course aims to address the need for this expertise and reduce the substantial demand on specialist NHS community services while breaking down health inequality and accessibility barriers.”

Amelia Wesley-Holley, Highly Specialist Speech and Language Therapist for the Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust said:

“This is a really exciting and innovative partnership between the Trust’s Children’s Speech and Language Therapy Service and Leeds Trinity University.
“The qualification provides a unique and extremely valuable opportunity for education settings to proactively identify and support students’ speech, language and communication needs, reducing the substantial demand on specialist NHS community services. This upskilling of education professionals will fill a significant gap in meeting the needs of children and young people, supporting their long-term education, mental health and employment outcomes.”

In line with the Leeds Trinity University Strategic Plan 2021-2026, the Advanced Practice in Speech Language and Communication Needs qualification supports the institution’s position as a career-led and applied University where students can shape the ever-changing world.  The qualification aims to reflect Leeds Trinity’s vision of inclusive educational practice whilst enhancing the University’s contribution to the Leeds City Region. 

The course also seeks to fulfil the University’s pledge to provide a transformational experience, forming students who find wholeness in their work and supporting the organisation’s values of service, integrity, respect, inclusivity and dignity for children and their families who face challenging issues in society.

For more information about the Advanced Practice in Speech Language and Communication Needs course at Leeds Trinity, visit the University website.

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