The British Stammering Association and our Scottish Branch, the British Stammering Association Scotland, hope that this will provide Scottish teachers and school support staff with effective and practical strategies for supporting pupils who stammer in a mainstream primary school setting.
It provides accessible and simple strategies for staff to support a pupil who stammers. It is an updated version of the ground-breaking CD-ROM that was produced by the BSA and sent to primary schools and speech and language therapy departments in Scotland in 2006. The busy primary teacher, who may have frequent contact with such a pupil and needs to quickly check on how best to approach a specific classroom situation, can easily access the relevant information.
This resource will also be useful for staff working with children with complex educational needs, including stammering. However, it does not provide specific additional strategies for this group. It includes video clips of classroom scenes, collaborative practice with speech and language therapists and meetings with parents - all filmed in a mainstream Scottish secondary school setting.
Pupils with direct experience of stammering (not actors) are shown talking about their own feelings and experiences. The accompanying printable text provides more detailed information on stammering, strategies for supporting the stammering pupil in school and further options for support. As more boys than girls stammer by the secondary school stage, the convention of using the pronoun 'he' to refer to the child who stammers is used throughout. This resource is not a substitute for advice from a speech and language therapist to whom a referral should always be made when a child's speech is causing concern.
Jacqui MacDonald, then Headteacher of Crookfur Primary School, who is shown teaching the class in video clips, explains how support for children who stammer is placed within the school inclusion policy (Learning and Teaching Scotland: Inclusion and Equality). This reflects the BSA view that support for children who stammer is best placed within the 'whole-class' and 'whole-school' context.
Busy teachers are not always able to respond immediately to the needs of individual children in the classroom or elsewhere. It is important that all pupils recognise and understand this, so inappropriate interruptions of the teacher by pupils and unsolicited questions, unless of an urgent nature, are not made by any of them.
Children who stammer, particularly the younger ones, may try to speak out when they feel able to do so. They could have some difficulty at first with remembering the talking and listening rules and reinforcement of these standards may be necessary for them and other children in the class. However, once it is clear that these are the expectations for all pupils, children who stammer and their parents will be reassured that all children are following the same standards.
A school code of practice on behaviour, talking and listening supports the communication needs of all pupils, as well as those of the child who stammers, and ensures that the teacher is able to balance the meeting of individual needs with the other demands of classroom and school. It may be helpful to involve the whole school community in the development of this policy.
Jacqui explains how support for children who stammer is placed within the school inclusion policy