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No. 12, January 2001

Provision for Children with Speech and Language (SL) Needs in England and Wales: facilitating communication between education and health services

Geoff Lindsay writes:

This study was conducted over 1999-2000 by a team comprising Dr James Law, Marie Gascoigne and Nina Soloff, City University; Nick Peacey and Julie Radford, Institute of Education, London together with Professor Geoff Lindsay and Sue Band from CEDAR.

Children with SL difficulties require the services of education and health professionals, who work with them and contribute to assessment and programmes of intervention. Beyond specific needs of individual children, however, planning at strategic level by health and education is crucial.

This project was commissioned by the Department for Education and Employment (DfEE), Department of Health, and the National Assembly for Wales. Each of three phases provided data enabling cross-phase validation.

Phase 1, a national survey of LEAs and health trusts, gave largely quantitative data, e.g. on caseloads and service levels to various educational provision.

Phase 2 comprised case studies of 15 LEA-health trust pairs, identified from Phase 1 as having, or lacking, good collaboration. Interviews were held with practitioners (e.g. teachers, SL therapists), managers (e.g. special educational needs officers, SLT service managers) and parents.

In Phase 3 these groups attended five regional 'research into practice' days. Initial findings from Phase 1 and 2 were presented and issues discussed, facilitating validation of findings and further development of themes identified in the research.

The research complements the report of a Working Group set up by the DfEE/DoH to review SLT services. It shows nation-wide variation of SLT service provision and support to different special education provision, e.g. ratio of therapists to children and support for children with emotional and behavioural difficulties. SLT departments employ an average of 14.3 f.t.e. SLTs but the ratio of therapists varies from 1000 to 9500 children per therapist, with an average of 4257.

The study has contributed to our knowledge of the system for supplying children with SL needs, and identified ways forward. These include action at national level, with government setting a clear policy lead, including addressing the funding difficulties. Secondly, action is required at LEA-trust level to improve collaboration and strategic planning of provision and training. Finally, practitioners need to develop mutual understanding and effective collaboration practice.

Some CEDAR Projects...

Continuing Professional Development Standards Project (CSP): an evaluation for the CSP UK National Planning Group

Andrew Parker writes:

This evaluation from July - Nov. 2000, considered the effectiveness of the previously devised EUSCCCIP (European Project for the Use of Standards of Competence in CPD for Construction Industry Practitioners) framework within the structure and deliver of CPD in construction and engineering, and assessed employer/employee perceptions and experiences of the CPD process. This was the UK element of a venture which seeks to pilot the EUSCCCIP framework in 6 partner countries (UK, Finland, Northern Ireland, Portugal, France and Germany) and disseminate information regarding its effectiveness and transferability.

A feedback-survey questionnaire administered by CPD consultants based in the industries concerned focused principally on the nature and provision of CPD in the industries in general, the kinds of occupational standards adopted during the CPD process, and the effectiveness of the EUSCCCIP framework as a model for CPD implementation and design. The survey evidence suggests that, overall, there is acceptance and appreciation of CPD within the construction and engineering industries.

The report also highlighted a range of issues relating to the structure and delivery of CPD, e.g. that industry-related demands and pressures have led recently to a much more systematised and structured CPD process within the construction and engineering industries. Nevertheless, some employers were using outdated methods of recording, reporting, monitoring and reviewing CPD. It seems that the EUSCCCIP framework has yet to fulfil its dissemination and usage potential. Above all, more coherence in the occupational standards being used by companies and organisations was needed.

The Dance and Drama (DADA) Scheme Evaluation

Vivien Freakley writes:

A CEDAR-led team, comprising Professor Geoff Lindsay, Dr. Jonathon Neelands, Professor Ken Robinson and research fellows Vivien Freakley and Sue Band, began this three-year DfEE-funded evaluation in April 2000.

The DfEE implemented the Dance and Drama Award Scheme in 1999, funding 820+ assisted places for talented dancers, actors and stage managers at 29 private sector vocational training institutions. The rationale for the programme is to ensure that the most talented students are not excluded from this training by its high costs. At the same time, it is intended that "the increase in publicly funded training, qualifications and quality associated with the awards should have direct benefits for the sector, economy and our national culture". (DFEE 2000)

Aims of the programme include:

  • Focusing on the "best mix of courses and curriculum"
  • Improving access to training from all sections of the community
  • Improving the provision of approved qualifications
  • Offering an appropriate and cost effective mix of 1, 2 and 3 year awards
  • Encouraging effective use of APL and competence-based training
  • Improving the quality of training
  • Improving the employability of students by relating training to the needs of employers.

A mixed method design combines provider site visits, employer/student interviews and focus groups, student questionnaires and postcode analysis to measure the scheme's impact on socio-demographic participation.

This rich and challenging project offers opportunities to explore value-laden terms, such as "best", "appropriate" and "most talented" in an under-characterised labour market and from the perspectives of the many stakeholders: students, providing institutions, employers and DfEE.

Heads You Win:

Jim Campbell, Geoff Lindsay, Emma Phillips

Emma Phillips writes:

Funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Charitable Trust, this was a 1999/2000 meta-evaluation of twelve projects across England and Wales which aimed to develop headteachers' management/leadership skills to raise standards of pupil achievement. Each project appointed its own local evaluator.

The CEDAR evaluation comprised early interviews with project directors and observation of training sessions, followed by face to face or telephone interviews with many of the participating heads. The current and final phase analyses each project's final report and local evaluation.

The projects varied in nature, e.g. developing heads' and deputies' team-working skills, or focusing on emotional intelligence. Some projects devolved funding to schools for individually designed school-based projects, others provided high quality training sessions for all participants. Overall, substantial achievement was made in line with the Trust's aims.

Baseline Assessment:

Geoff Lindsay, Ann Lewis, Emma Phillips

The QCA commissioned CEDAR to evaluate the baseline assessment of pupils on entering school in a six month project from February 2000. Ninety schemes were in place nation-wide, varying in content, timing and means of administration. A questionnaire was sent to 2000 primary, infant and first schools across England. In-depth face to face and telephone interviews followed with the headteacher, reception class teachers, and parents in a sample of forty-six schools across fourteen LEAs. Questionnaires and interviews were also completed by scheme providers, LEA Baseline Assessment Officers and Educational Psychologists.

The CEDAR team sought to find out how baseline assessment operated in schools, the use it was put to, problems with its administration and content. Many school staff were satisfied with their scheme's content, but many were unaware of differences between schemes. Indications were that national standardisation would be valuable if linked with the standardised assessments of the National Curriculum. Teachers in schools with a mobile population would welcome a single scheme to aid understanding of records transferred to them from other authorities. Those who rejected the idea of a single scheme would regret losing the large bank of data built up for their current scheme.

Many teachers favoured assessments soon after school entry whilst others wanted a settling in period, especially for children without pre-school experience. Problems in the manageability of assessments as well as difficulties with moderation between schools were frequently cited.

'Evaluation of Accredited Baseline Assessment Schemes 1999/2000' - £5.00.

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