Collaboration between speech and language therapists and teachers
Successful collaboration between speech and language therapists and teachers has implications for the delivery of services for children with communication problems. This research is concerned with the ways in which speech and language therapists and teachers work together to help children up to the age of 11 years of age who have difficulties with communication. A survey was carried out among speech and language therapists working in England and Wales, who either worked in schools or Health Centres. A postal questionnaire was used to collect the information and the responses were analysed using quantitative and qualitative methodology. All the 443 respondents agreed that collaboration was important although this did not always happen. More school based therapists collaborated with teachers than clinic based therapists. The speech and language therapists in this survey assessed children with coimnunication problems, planned the therapy and then begin to work with the teachers. Therapists who were based in health centres saw this as a way of ensuring a continuation of therapy between clinic appointments. To try to understand the reasons for teachers and therapists collaborating a second set of data was collected using interviews. Twenty pairs of speech and language therapists and teachers who worked together, were interviewed. In ten pairs, the therapist was clinic based and visited the school and in the other ten pairs the therapist was based in the same school as the teacher. Reciprocity between collaborating dyads was much more common around their increase in knowledge as a result of working together than any other factor. The fact that cognitive gain was one of the chief benefits following collaboration raises interesting issues to be considered in future undergraduate professional education and in-service training.