Speech Pathology in Schools Resource Project

Speech Pathology Australia (the Association) has been contracted by the New South Wales Department of Education to develop the Speech Pathology in Schools Resource Kit. There is a Speech Pathology Australia Reference Group overseeing this project.

What is the purpose of the kit?

The purpose of the kit is to provide:

  • information to principals, teachers, parents and speech pathologists about best practice speech pathology in an educational setting.
  • support to encourage more schools in NSW to engage (either employ or contract) speech pathologists to work in their schools 
  • advice regarding how speech pathologists working collaboratively in schools can improve student learning outcomes and wellbeing.

Who is the kit for?

The kit will have four individual components for four different audiences. The audiences for the components are:

  • principals
  • teachers
  • parents
  • speech pathologists.

The kit will be accessible from the NSW Department of Education website when it is finished/available. The speech pathology component of the resource kit will be accessible from this website.

The finished document/kit will be launched in October 2017.

Between January and October 2017, a range of activities occur. These activities involve consultation and advice from speech pathologists expert in the fields of education and learning, and other key stakeholders in NSW.

January 2017

Resource Project commencement

Senior Project Officer, Mary Gornik, was appointed and commenced with the Association on 23 January 2017. The Speech Pathology Australia Reference Group was established and met for the first time on 24 January 2017. The reference group submitted relevant articles documenting best practice and an extensive literature review was commenced.

February 2017

Stakeholder forums and national survey

Several stakeholder forums were organised in Sydney by the NSW Department of Education with extensive representation for principal and teacher groups, parent groups, health and education departmental representatives, and aboriginal education representatives.

The purpose of the forums was to identify:

  • current knowledge regarding the role of speech pathologists in schools
  • what best practice looks like in schools?
  • what doesn’t work well in schools?
  • what information and resources should the resource kit contain?
  • where should the resource be available from?
  • how do we promote the resource?
National survey

A survey was distributed to Association members and non-members nationally. The response to the survey was overwhelming and the data received was extensive and informative. The survey’s aims was to capture data in each state and territory regarding current speech pathology practice in schools, the challenges speech pathologists face and suggestions regarding best practice in schools.

March 2017

The draft writing briefs were developed for all four components and feedback was received from the NSW Department of Education’s key stakeholders. The feedback has fine-tuned the content to be included in each component.

As part of development of the speech pathology component of the kit, video interviews were conducted at Mahogany Rise Primary School in Frankston North in Melbourne. Testimonials were secured from the school’s principal, speech pathologist, and literacy teacher; plus a parent and two year 3 students. Excerpts from these interviews will appear in the kit as short YouTube clips.

April 2017

A draft of the resource kit’s four components has been finalised and submitted to the NSW Department of Education for review and feedback.

An invitation to receive written testimonials from schools implementing a whole school (Response to Intervention) approach was sent out via the Reference Group.

The Association was represented at the Language, Literacy and Learning Conference in Perth. Delegates were composed of educators, allied health professionals, and parents. A number of speech pathologists presented papers at the conference, including:

  • Dr Suze Leitao was part of a group presentation with Deanna Francis, Mary Claessen and Genevieve McArthur on “Mental health and self-esteem in children with reading difficulties.”
  • Natalie Munro and Dr Julia Starling conducted a presentation on “Direct vocabulary instruction: What does it look like in the classroom.”
  • Dr Tanya Serry conducted two presentations, firstly with Professor Pam Snow, Ros Neilson, Maureen Westerveld and Melinda Schambre on “Clinical guidelines for speech pathologists working in the literacy domain.” Secondly, on “Managing dyslexia and other reading related problems: University students’ perspective.”
  • Professor Pam Snow conducted several presentations:
    • “Making the transition to literacy in the first three years of school: Lifting the bonnet on oral language skills,”
    • “If I had a hammer” – A symposium on how to address Australia’s “long tail of under-achievement” (Co-presenters: Jennifer Buckingham, Mandy Nayton and Greg Ashman).

May 2017

Speech Pathology Australia National Conference and the prelaunch of the speech pathology component of the kit

Feedback from the NSW Department of Education (NSW DoE) was received regarding the principal component of the resource kit. The remaining feedback is scheduled to be received in June 2017.

During the National Conference there was a prelaunch presentation of the speech pathology component of the resource kit. Neale Waddy, Leader, Support and Development, Disability, Learning and Support (NSW DoE) attended this session to present a brief overview of the project and its links to key reforms in NSW schools.

Content summary of the speech pathology component is:

  • Background and policy context for the project
  • Typical speech, language and communication development
  • Common speech, language and communication needs (SLCN)
  • The impact of speech, language and communication needs
  • Identifying students with speech, language and communication needs
  • Best practice models and support for students with SLCN
  • Role of teachers and speech pathologists in the educational setting
  • What you need to consider when working in schools
  • Other things to consider: NDIS, CALD, dual servicing, rural and regional schools.

June 2017

In June, it was decided to extend the timeframe of the project to allow for more comprehensive feedback from key stakeholder groups. The final kit is scheduled for completion by September 30 with the launch expected in October 2017.

The resource was promoted at Australian Council for Educational Leaders National Disability Summit in Sydney on June 19 and 20, 2017.

Video interviews were conducted at Strathcona Baptist Girls Grammar School. Testimonials were secured from the school’s principal, speech pathologist, and two teachers. Excerpts from these interviews will appear in the kit as short YouTube clips.

July 2017

Further revisions to the components continued in preparation for stakeholder feedback from principal, teacher and parent groups in New South Wales (NSW). The speech pathology component was sent to members of the reference group for comment.

The resource was promoted at the SEPLA (Special Education Principal’s and Leaders’ Association) conference in Sydney on July 18. In addition a workshop was presented by Mary Gornik and Dr Julia Starling on ‘Improving student learning outcomes through a whole school collaborative approach'.

A survey was distributed through the Association's NSW Branch e-News and its Facebook member community to gauge expressions of interest for a series of workshops to be conducted in various locations in NSW in November this year. The purpose of the workshops is to provide speech pathologists wanting to be employed in schools in NSW an overview of the education sector and the whole school approach (response to intervention model).

August 2017

The NSW Department of Education consulted with its key stakeholders on the principal, teacher and parent components of the resource kit. Speech Pathology Australia’s reference group provided feedback on the speech pathology component. Revision to all four components was commenced in preparation for an end date of 30 September, at which time the design teams will adapt the information for the websites. The NSW Department of Education will adapt the principal, teacher and parent components for their website and Speech Pathology Australia will adapt the speech pathology component for its website. The resources will be freely available to all interested parties.

September 2017

The principal, teacher and parent components of the resource were completed, approved by Speech Pathology Australia and provided to the NSW Department of Education. The components will now be adapted for the Department’s website prior to its launch. Details of the launch date will be provided once established. The speech pathology component had a final revision following feedback from the reference group and adaptation for the Association’s website commenced.

October 2017

The kit, titled ‘TALK’ – Team Around the Learner Kit will be launched on the NSW Department of Education’s website with a link to Speech Pathology Australia’s website for access to the speech pathology component.

Speech Pathology Australia Reference Group

  • Gaenor Dixon, National President, Speech Pathology Australia/Principal Advisor, Therapies
  • Tim Kittel, Director, Speech Pathology Australia
  • Alison Smith, Queensland Branch Chair/ Director Strategy and Performance, Metropolitan Region, Department of Education and Training (Queensland)
  • Gail Mulcair, Chief Executive Officer, Speech Pathology Australia
  • Candice Brady, Speech Pathologist at Children’s Hospital at Westmead (SCHN), Leader for Advocacy & Influence – Speech Pathology Australia (NSW Branch)
  • Felicity Burke, Practice Leader Speech Pathology, Clinical Innovation and Governance, Ageing Disability and Home Care, Department of Family and Community Services
  • Associate Professor Patricia Eadie, Melbourne Graduate School of Education
  • Dr Charlotte Forwood, Leader of Advanced Learning – Strathcona Girls Grammar School
  • Associate Professor Suze Leitao, Life Member SPA | School of Psychology and Speech Pathology, Faculty of Health Sciences | Curtin University
  • Professor Sharynne McLeod, Life Member SPA, ASHA Fellow, Professor of Speech and Language Acquisition, School of Teacher Education, Charles Sturt University
  • Eleanor McMillan, Speech Pathologist in Private Practice/ School Leader in the ACT Education Direcorate
  • Dr Natalie Munro, Course Director BAppSc(SpPath) & Senior Lecturer Speech Pathology | Faculty of Health Sciences, The University of Sydney, and University Associate, Curtin University
  • Dr Tanya Serry, Senior Lecturer, Discipline of Speech Pathology; Chair, Human Research Ethics Sub-Committee; Honorary Research Fellow, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Policy Equity and Transition group
  • Dr Julia Starling, Certified Practicing Speech-Language Pathologist Adjunct Lecturer, The University of Sydney; President, Learning Difficulties Coalition of NSW
  • Kathryn Thorburn, Speech Pathologist/Teacher Language and Learning: K-12 Speech Pathology & Learning Support
  • Pamela Thuan, Speech Pathologist and Speech and Language Specialist Consultant
  • Sue Wilks, Speech Pathologists/Managing Director- One Stop: Allied Health & Medical Centre
  • Christine Lyons, Senior Advisor – Professional Practice, Speech Pathology Australia
  • Cathy Olsson, National Advisor – Disability, Speech Pathology Australia.

The Reference Group is supported by Mary Gornik, Senior Project Officer.