Best Practice

The power of symbols: Supporting comprehension in the classroom

The use of simple symbols in the classroom can support all pupils, but especially those with speech, language, and communication needs – and there are lots of free resources out there. Neil Thompson and Louise Ryves explain

According to Speech and Language UK, around 1.4 million children in the UK have a long-term speech, language, and communication need (SLCN) that they won’t grow out of, translating to 10% of children – or two to three in every mainstream classroom.

SLCN is the most common need for pupils on SEN support, with Department for Education SEN figures showing that 278,600 were identified in this category during the 2022/23 academic year.

This all means at numerous points in your teaching career you will be called on to provide support for pupils who experience difficulties with verbal comprehension in your day-to-day lessons.

Some pupils with SLCN may have already been identified, and the needs of other pupils will come to light when you start teaching them. Either way, giving them the support they require is vital.

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