As a SENCO from St Mary Magdalene Academy, a vibrant school of 1170 pupils spanning an age group of 5 to 18; Ceni Gilmore contracted our services and participated in a feedback survey, which highlighted amongst other things our staff’s professionalism and positive contrast to the LEA provisions.

The setting

Of the pupils on roll, around 1.5% have a statement or EHC plan in place. Whilst the school does not have large numbers of English as a second language pupils, over 50% of pupils attending are from a marked background of social deprivation.

The staff and systems in place

A relatively small team of just 80 teachers and 5 TAs manage the pupils’ learning in a school spanning a wide age group. Previously the systems in place to help those on roll with pronounced speech and language difficulties were managed within the school by using the senior leadership teams to identify issues, NHS initiative CAMHS (Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services) and external practitioners.

Why use Integrated Therapy Services?

Ceni felt that the speech, language communication therapy services were needed, since a relatively large part of the cohort was representing these specific barriers to learning. Having grown tired of the way in which the LEA provision had operated, and citing it as an imperfect style of working, she unreservedly decided to try out Integrated Therapy Services.

How did we do?

Having heard about us, Ceni looked at the website and had a non obligatory conversation. She felt after this that she had no reservations about using Integrated Treatment Services, saying we “sounded professional and well managed”, which would ultimately reduce additional workload for her and the already stretched staff.

She added that she felt communication and initial contact from us was “good, and we felt well cared for.” This attention to care and building relationships is key to our ethos, and this is some of the most positive feedback we could receive. We want to get it right for school SENCo’s, and more importantly for the families and children who come into our care.

What were our therapists like?

Ceni and her staff felt our therapists had excellent subject knowledge. She added that we were “professional and competent, available during the week and responsive via email”, which made a “refreshing difference to LEA therapists”. The assessments carried out by Integrated Therapy Services were brief and concise, which contrasted to the previous lengthy and stale briefings.

How was the therapy conducted?

The therapy sessions have included group work; classroom based work; staff training; parental awareness raising; 1;1 withdrawal work; assessment and baselining; attendance at meetings; report writing; programme planning and joint coaching, which has been planned together during a weekly meeting.

What’s changed?

The progress of students using Integrated Therapy Services has been good and staff’s awareness has dramatically increased since using an Integrated Therapy Services therapist to come and work within the academy. Additionally, she added, “I myself have a better understanding of SLCN difficulties, and as such feel my relationship with pupils in this category has improved.”

We are particularly proud of the feedback we received from Ceni regarding the impact our sessions had on her own improvement and that of the staff. Better yet, it’s integral to our values to ultimately achieve the best for our students, which St. Mary Magdalene felt we had.