Pictured: Speech Pathology Tasmania senior team members who have been instrumental in the partnership with CET, pictured with Her Excellency the Honourable Barbara Baker AC, Governor of Tasmania. and Education Minister Roger Jaensch at Government House on Thursday evening, June 30.
A partnership between Speech Pathology Tasmania and Tasmania’s Catholic schools is having a significant impact on improving infant student’s speech and language skills. Annual screening of students in Kinder to Grade 2 is enabling early intervention for students needing assistance with their speech and language development skills.
The partnership between Tasmania’s Catholic schools and speech pathologists was celebrated with a reception at Government House this week. Her Excellency the Honourable Barbara Baker AC, Governor of Tasmania, and Emeritus Professor Don Chalmers AO hosted the Celebration of Collaboration event on Thursday evening June 30, which was attended by Tasmania’s Education Minister Roger Jaensch and representatives from Catholic Education Tasmania, Speech Pathology Tasmania team members, and other providers of speech pathology services.
The guests also included Catholic school Teachers and Teacher Assistants, academics from UTas who are preparing to begin delivery of Tasmania’s first Speech and Language Pathology degrees, and other supporting organisations such as Speech Pathology Australia.
Catholic Education Tasmania, Speech Pathology Tasmania, and other providers of speech pathology services have worked collaboratively together for more than 20 years. Over the past five years in particular, this work has developed and expanded, and is now reaching hundreds of children around the state in the critical early years of schooling.
“This support to children’s futures is well worth celebrating.” Says Rosie Martin, Director of Speech Pathology Tasmania.
“Tasmania is privileged that its Governor supports development of spoken language and literacy and understands how these skills entwine to form the foundations of agency and self-determination.”
Pictured: Catholic Education Tasmania Director Dr Gerard Gaskin, Catholic Education Tasmania Manager Cathrine Montgomery, and Speech Pathology Tasmania Director Rosie Martin, with Her Excellency the Honourable Barbara Baker AC, Governor of Tasmania.
During the first two school terms of 2022, speech pathologists across Tasmania have assessed almost 800 students in Kinder to Grade 2 for speech and language development, in 25 Catholic schools across the state.
The initial screening tests of students who were recommended for assessment identified children who were either diagnosed with a speech and language problem or needed further investigation. Students who did not pass further assessments then had targeted speech and language development programs written for them. These individual programs are now being delivered to those students by Teacher Assistants and Student Support Coordinators in the classroom.
Of the students recommended for assessment, initial figures are suggesting that Speech Sound Disorder is confirmed in close to 45% and newly diagnosed in a further 20%. These figures also suggest that language impairment is confirmed in close to 10% and newly diagnosed in 5% of the students assessed. Risk factors for Developmental Language Disorder were identified in around a further 10% of the students assessed.
These assessments by Speech and Language Pathologists in the critical early years of schooling is important in enabling early intervention to address the speech and language difficulties identified.
The targeted speech and language intervention programs are having measurable outcomes. At one school where 40% of the Prep class were participating in targeted speech and language intervention programs, the number of students within the normal range for phonemic awareness skills jumped from 9% at the end of Kinder, to 82% by the end of Prep the following year. Phonemic awareness is the ability to identify and manipulate the different sounds that come together to make spoken words.
“The speech and language skills of these children are the building blocks towards the essays they will write when they are older, the political discussions they will engage in as they become contributors to democracy, and all the other ways in which they will be active citizens and participants in their community.” Says Rosie.