Communication needs at Highfurlong

On entering school pupils have a full assessment of their Speech, Language and Communication needs and are allocated a specific Speech and Language Therapist to work with them and class staff on their strategies. Parents are given a full report on their child’s Speech and Language and a copy of future targets as part of their annual collaborative meeting.

For our pupils who have complex communication needs they may need to use alternative forms of communication. In partnership with parents and class staff we provide ongoing in-depth assessments and pupils will have the opportunity to trial different devices to ensure we find the right fit for them.

At Highfurlong we pride ourselves on being a local centre of expertise in the field of AAC. We have a Communication Team consisting of an AAC Manager, 3 Speech and Language Therapists and a Therapy Assistant.

We are a communication inclusive school. Within school we use many different forms of communication such as signing, eye pointing, objects of reference, symbols, gestures, words and high tech AAC devices. Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) is any form of aided communication system and we have several users who use high tech AAC with voice output.

The majority of our communication aids are provided by school, however, should a child need access to a high tech device such as voice output equipment or eye-gaze technology we would liaise with the ACE Centre North on the suitability of funding such equipment.

When considering a communication device the team not only look at the language level but also a child’s vision, how they would physically access the aid and where appropriate, mounting to their wheelchair.

With any form of communication strategy or device we offer full support to children, parents and staff. Our aim is for our pupils to be as independent as possible

Assistive Technology

Many of our pupils require special access technology in order for them to access not only the computer but their environment.

Each child in school receives an assessment from our AAC Manager alongside our Occupational Therapist if necessary and a report for class staff as how to best support their physical needs.

This report features in the child’s annual collaborative meeting and includes

strategies and targets for progression.




Definition of AAC

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) refers to any means by which an individual can supplement or replace spoken communication. Communication may range from any movement or behaviour that is observed and interpreted by another person as meaningful, to the use of a code agreed upon between people where items have specific meanings, ie a language. We all use some form of augmentative communication in our daily life, for example, gesture (waving goodbye) and graphic symbols (washing label symbols, road signs).

AAC is both a means of accessing an educational curriculum and language in its own right. It is appropriate for individuals who have difficulty with receptive and expressive language due to physical, sensory or learning disability. It provides an opportunity to attain emotional, social, educational and vocational goals.  Highfurlong School facilitates and encourages the use of ‘Total Communication’ in which a variety of modes of communication, including speech may be used in order to communicate effectively.

The aim of the 3rd Millennium Learning Award is to enable schools to demonstrate how they are providing an education fit for the 21st century. It celebrates schools' achievements in creating an environment and curriculum that stimulate more and better learning, making full use of the opportunities presented by technology.

Here parents, staff and pupils promote the highly effective use of of access technology to empower young people with disabilities. They advocate the use of alternative and augmentative technology (AAC) to facilitate the cognitive, social and emotional development of learners.

Highfurlong Submission for the 3rd Millenium Learning Award