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Assembly

Younger pupils who stammer may be quite happy to take part in speaking to a large audience and should be encouraged to do so as normal.

Older students may be self conscious about talking in these situations, especially if they do stammer. As speaking to an audience is an important skill in many educational or employment situations, the anxious pupil must be encouraged to consider, with the teacher, ways of taking part.

For the student who stammers it can be helpful to speak in unison with other pupils, as Emma does in the assembly clip, when she is unlikely to stammer.

The fact that she is happy to step in at the last moment is evidence of her confidence in speaking in chorus and shows the other pupils in the audience how she contributes as much, if not more, than they do. This experience of normal fluency can build confidence and encourage more participation.

The challenge for any young person who stammers in adolescence is to overcome the fear of stammering that can prevent him taking part in normal social situations and avoid opportunities because of worry about speech.

By this stage, fluency may not be an attainable goal but the student should be encouraged to still value what he has to say and be prepared to talk to express himself. 

It is a sensitive task selecting for key performance roles and staff should consider each pupil according to the criteria set for the part.

If the pupil who stammers wants to audition he should be encouraged to do so and be prepared to compete for the role, according to its criteria.

To attain these objectives, discussion about the stammer needs to have been open in a 'one-to-one' situation, since the pupil came into the school.

The mentoring of the guidance teacher, or other appropriate colleague, is ideally consistent throughout the school life of the pupil.

When there are staff changes, it is important that information is passed on and a new, equally supportive relationship established.

Summary

  • Be flexible about the form of contribution, using alternatives of mime, dance, musical items  etc if appropriate. 
  • Encourage all pupils to participate in assemblies and presentations. 
  • Give positive feedback about this, particularly if the pupil has challenged himself. 
  • Talk with the pupil who stammers about ways in which he can contribute.

Emma, who stammers, is pleased to take part at the last moment in a choral reading in assembly.