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Sunderland College delivers remote support to SEND students

Sunderland College is delivering remote speech and language sessions during lockdown to support SEND students and their families.

Speech and language therapist, Nicola Gallagher, who is a member of the college’s foundation learning team, is providing one to one sessions using Google Hangouts and Google Meet software.

She hopes that the support will enable student to continue to develop their social skills and emotional resilience while they are at home.

So far, 20 hours of contact time have been provided to 12 students using iPads, telephone and email.

Nicola said: “I was with the NHS prior to joining Sunderland College and I would visit houses, care homes, day services and hospitals working closely with patients, families and staff.

“I used my skills and knowledge to develop solutions for how to help our students remotely and interact with them in a holistic and therapeutic manner.”

Nicola is helping the students develop coping strategies and find their voice through fun activities such as Makaton signing sessions.

Nicola added: “At this time, more than ever, students need their voices to be heard, especially those who are non-verbal.

“One of our students asked for a sausage sandwich which is a huge achievement as before he would have struggled with any request. Parents can see this progress and it empowers them in the communication of their child.”

Although the sessions are delivered directly to each student, parents are encouraged to join in so they can learn new tips and strategies to further support their children and provide feedback.

Anticipating the government’s decision to suspend face to face learning back in March, the college’s foundation learning team moved quickly to provide families with educational resources, tasks, sensory stories and websites to access at home.

Danielle, whose daughter Megan is benefiting from the weekly sessions, added: “Nicola has been a great support during the lockdown period. She has been there for any issues Megan has had and also offered lots of different ideas to help keep her busy.

“A timetable has been put together based around conversations Nicola has had with Megan, which is extremely helpful, and I am extremely grateful for this support during a difficult time.”