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ELCISS aims to enhance language and communication in secondary school children with primary language and communication impairment through narrative/storytelling and vocabulary enrichment.


(Enhancing Language and Communication in Secondary Schools)

The Nuffield Foundation funded this exciting research project, which started in October 2006. It aimed to enhance language and communication in secondary school children with primary language and communication impairment through two intervention programmes: narrative/storytelling and vocabulary enrichment.

The project explored the prevalence and nature of language impairment in secondary school children in two outer London boroughs: Redbridge and Barking and Dagenham.

The adolescent population has been significantly under-researched and under-serviced. The ELCISS project investigated the effectiveness of two speech and language therapy interventions (narrative/storytelling and vocabulary enrichment) in improving language and communication in secondary school-aged students with significant language and communication impairments.

The study investigated the effectiveness of each therapy and their combination and examined which specific aspects of language were improved. It employed outcome measures from the child, school, parent and staff perspective. The interventions used were pedagogically sound in targeting key skills of the National Curriculum: storytelling and vocabulary.

The therapy was delivered by teaching assistants under the supervision of speech and language therapists thereby the project used a collaboration of school staff and therapists. There were four treatment groups each receiving eighteen hours of therapy: a narrative group, a vocabulary group, a group getting both treatments and a delayed treatment group which acted as a control group.

The specialist support programmes took place in small groups in the school environment. The project also incorporated a range of different levels of training for school staff in enhancing language and communication in language-impaired students. The training included strategies in differentiating the National Curriculum to meet the needs of students with language difficulties.

The project was managed by Dr Victoria Joffe, senior lecturer in developmental speech and language impairments from the Division of Language and Communication Science at City University in collaboration with Ms Nita Madhani, speech and language therapy manager from Redbridge PCT.