Speech & Language Base

Speech and Language Base


Longdean School hosts Hertfordshire’s only Secondary School Speech and Language Base in the west of the county. Established in 2005 after consultancy with the communication charity ICAN, the Base is an integrated resource which enables students with a range of Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN) to participate and achieve within a mainstream educational setting.

We hope that through thorough and considerate integration, students with SLCN will enter the world of work or further study after having had a positive experience of secondary education and having achieved their full potential.

Speech and Language Base Awards Day Summer Term 2009

Students from the Base participate in an awards ceremony each year

The Team

The Base Team is managed by a specialist teacher (the Speech and Language Base Manager) and consists of an additional specialist teacher and an NHS Speech and Language Therapist working on-site. Importantly, a team of well-trained and committed Teaching Assistants work with the students in mainstream classes and in the Base assisting the Speech and Language Therapists. The Team have a regular CPD to broaden their pre-existing knowledge of SLCN.


Speech and Language Base Manager Mrs Pauline Hickey
NHS Speech and Language Therapist Ms Lindsay Wood
Speech and Language Base Teacher Mrs Kate Purser
Specialist Teaching Assistants

Ms Vicky Brandon

Mrs Maria Gutteridge

Mrs Karen Vivers

Mrs Chris Wyatt


Admission to and Exit from the Base

Up to six students with a Statement of Special Educational Need may be allocated a place within the Base within each academic year. Students generally arrive at the Base from a Primary School Speech and Language Unit, although there are exceptions. This can mean that students can travel from homes located some distance from Longdean in order to benefit from our services.

Students attend the Speech and Language Base because they require the support of a Speech and Language Therapist and a specialist teacher. If a student makes so much progress that they no longer require the support offered by the Base team, he or she may be able to move to another school nearer home.

If you are the parent or carer of a current or potential student in the Speech and Language Base and would like to know more about entry and exit criteria, you may be interested in the document Information for Parents and Students.

Student monitoring

The Base is well resourced with specialist materials and equipment to address the speech, language and communication needs of the students. Baseline assessment takes place at the start of Year 7, and information gained from this is used to set targets for the term and year ahead. All students are fully involved in the assessment and target-setting cycle. Reports of all standardised assessment are distributed to parents and carers at each student's Annual Review.

Each student has a Base Profile which gives mainstream teaching colleagues an instant picture of which strategies to use with individual students. Student intervention plans are individually tailored and may address social use of language difficulties within small groups, or literacy and numeracy difficulties within a 1:1 setting.

Further information about provision for students in the Speech and Language Base can be found in our School Information Report.

Supporting and Training Mainstream Staff

 It is part of the role of the Base Team to share expertise of the impact of SLCN on students’ access to the curriculum. This is achieved through close collaboration with individual members of teaching staff as well as departmental and whole-school CPD sessions. Recent training of colleagues has included instruction and advice on the teaching of key words and development of students' vocabulary, as well as the use of Susan Ebbels' Shape Coding in mainstream lessons. The Base team contribute to Longdean's whole-school drive to develop students' literacy skills with support for mainstream class texts and differentiation of resources.

As well as enabling colleagues to develop their own practice, several CPD sessions each year are student-focused. The aim of these sessions is to develop mainstream teachers' understanding of individual students' learning needs and academic profiles, in order that lesson planning and content is appropriately modified and the learners themselves are properly supported.

In June 2011 the Base Team were selected to present an academic poster at the City University conference Lost for Words: Lost for Life? The poster outlines recent research-led practice by the Base team in supporting older students' progression between school, college and work. It can be viewed here.

Since September 2012, the Base team have offered colleagues from the Hemel Hempstead area and beyond the opportunity to gain accreditation at NVQ Level 3 in Speech and Language Support for 11-16s through the training organization ElklanSince September 2013, Speech and Language Support for 5-11s has been made available to teaching assistants, teachers and SENCos working in Primary settings. Each course consists of ten sessions,  delivered fortnightly. From January 2018, the course Speech and Language Support for Vulnerable Young People will also be offered. If you are working in a school and interested in gaining accreditation, please contact the Base Manager.

The Base team have also developed a series of discrete CPD sessions for colleagues from the local area, which will take place in the Speech and Language Base. The programme for 2017-18 can be viewed here.

Staff in the Speech and Language Base are delighted with Longdean's whole-school commitment to improving the communication skills of all young people; this year, Elklan-trained teachers from across the school will be training their colleagues as part of our ambition to gain Communication Friendly School Status.

Support for Parents

The Base team work in partnership with parents to ensure close and accurate monitoring of students' academic, personal and social development. Below are some of the steps taken to facilitate and maintain these good working relationships.

  • Parents surveyed anonymously for their views on the effectiveness of the Speech and Language Base.
  • Documents from the charity Afaisic are distributed at periods of transition (Year 6; Year 9; Year 11).
  • A mobile number is provided for all Base parents, should they need to contact a member of staff via text message.
  • A member of the Base team is available during all Parents' Evenings and at the Academic Mentoring session of each Base student.
  • Information leaflets on specific areas relating to learning and development are also distributed to parents on a termly basis. The most recent leaflet featured advice on revision.
  • To aid organization, important dates (including those of Statement Review meetings) are given out in September.

The Base Team also hold information sharing sessions specifically for parents. In the past these have included the topics Hearing your child read, Phonological Development, Receptive and Expressive Language Difficulties and Dyspraxia. These sessions also provide an opportunity to meet other parents of children with Speech, Language and Communication Needs. If you are the parent of a child in the Speech and Language Base and would like to request an event, please contact the Base Manager.

Useful Links

The Communication Trust


A Department of Education-funded organization which aims to raise awareness of SLCN across the children’s workforce.

Dyspraxia Foundation


A national charity (Based in Hitchin, Herts) which seeks to raise awareness and understanding of developmental co-ordination disorder.



A parent-led organization which supports children with SLCN and their families.



A charity which supports children with SLCN in education.

Parent Partnership


A statutory service which gives information, advice and support to parents and carers of young people with special educational needs.

Last modified: Monday, 18 September 2017, 3:36 PM