Newlands School

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Waverley Road, Middleton, Manchester, M24 6JG

0161 655 0220

Newlands School

Year 6 parents - Redwood School will be holding a September 2024 Year 7 Intake Parent Welcome and Information Evening Tuesday 9th July 4.30pm - 6.00pm.

  1. Key Information
  2. Curriculum
  3. Communication


Supporting Children's Communication

Here at Newlands we take a 'Total Communication' approach when working to develop the communication skills and understanding of our pupils.

For us this means we use a variety of different approaches including

  • use of signs - Signalong is the system used, as it is across all the Rochdale Special Schools
  • use of visual cues e.g. objects of reference
  • use of picture symbols including photographs and symbols (we use the symbols from Boardmaker, most commonly used in a range of Communication aids)
  • use of specific branded approaches such as PECS, LAMP, Eyegaze and PODD


Decisions around provision, training and assessment in Communication are linked to 

  • children's needs and previous experience, as noted on their EHCP and reported by parents, carers and professionals
  • children's current responses as observed in our setting by Teachers, Teaching Assistants, Speech and Language Therapists and Educational Psychologists
  • children's changing responses to different situations over time and
  • available resources and training


We take a total communication approach in our school because each child is unique.  We find that whilst one communication approach works well for one child, another is better for a different child and that this can change over time. We are guided in our decisions by Speech and Language Therapists and Highly Specialised Speech and Language Therapists from either the NHS or Everyone Communicates.  You will find that your child's EHCP may refer to commercial approaches such as PECS, PODD etc as an example of a type of approach to be used, as the Local Authority and School do not endorse one approach over another.  EHCPs are written and altered by the LA in consultation with families, school and involved professionals.


Staff across the school have different levels of experience in terms of supporting communication.  For example, some staff have been trained in specific approaches, some have always worked in the Special setting, some have moved to Newlands from Mainstream schools.   All staff are used to working closely with Speech and Language Therapists, following their advice and gaining and applying skills throughout their careers. When staff are new to school they complete a period of Induction, including a focus on supporting and developing children's communication skills and understanding.


If children move to our school having used a specific form of Communication in a previous setting, we liaise with that setting and their Speech and Language Therapist to support them through their initial transition period and beyond.  Staff attend additional training around specific approaches, where and when this available, whilst also utilising skills, understanding and advice from within the Newlands and therapist teams.


Most children take a while to adapt to being in School and we ask families to be patient as we support your child in their responses to the many changes and new experiences that starting at Newlands brings. 


Our Assistant Head, Shelly Spencer, is one of a number of Communication Specialists on our team.  If you have any queries linked to this important element of your child's development, please contact her via the School Office

0161 655 0220



Signalong is a key word sign supported communication system based on British sign language and is used in the order that the words are spoken.

It uses speech, signs, body language, facial expression and voice tone to help create the link between a sign and a word.


Each week we focus on a Sign of the Week, allowing pupils to build up a library of familiar signs. We share these with our families each week via our weekly newsletters, and on our Youtube channel. You can also find our Signs of the Week here.