St John’s Catholic Specialist School was founded in 1870 as a school for hearing impaired pupils.
The school is a specialist provision which focuses on supporting both hearing and hearing-impaired students with speech, language, and communication needs. Some students have autism, ADHD, and complex needs. A key focus of our approach is the development of communication skills and whilst a few students join the school who need a holistic approach that includes signing, for the vast majority, spoken language is their preferred mode of communication.
For these young people, writing is even more difficult. Our students’ hearing impairments, together with sometimes coexisting specific learning difficulties, present challenges to the development of complex language forms through lack of exposure. This influences their ability to write extended sentences that are linked together coherently, resulting in ‘stream of consciousness’ pieces where communication intent floods out of limited language structures. This lack of structure seems to result from a fractured ‘internal voice’ i.e. the lack of an internal storyteller maintaining the lucidity of the text and telling the writer what to write next.
To address these difficulties, we accessed training and support from the Talk for Writing team. We have already seen the impact of Tall for Writing. Our students increasingly develop and extend their use of vocabulary and internal sentence structures to compose coherently sequenced sentences. The amount of progress that the students are making is clearly visible within the writing they produce.
Current training offered