To Remember, the Brain Must Actively Forget

“Without forgetting, we would have no memory at all,” said Oliver Hardt, who studies memory and forgetting at McGill University in Montreal. The process is necessary for the functioning of a healthy brain—just as important as the ability to remember.

Read this fascinating article on the latest research into the theory of ‘forgetting’ as an active component of the long-term memory process.

To Remember, the Brain Must Actively Forget | Quanta Magazine

Becoming Word Aware at Osmani Primary School

Linda Hall and Tracey Grant from the Language, Literacy and Communication Team led training on Word Aware, a structured whole school approach to promote the vocabulary development of all children. Focused on whole class learning, the resource is of particular value for those who start at a disadvantage – including children with Developmental Language Disorder, Special Educational Needs and those who speak English as an additional language, but it will extend the word learning of all students.

Practical, inspiring and fun ideas were explored that can be easily applied by busy classroom practitioners to develop both spoken and written vocabulary.

Remi Atoyebi (Headteacher), Helen Vail and Tracey Grant (Language, Literacy and Communication Team Learning Advisory Service Advisory teacher for inclusion).

Contact for further information if you are interested in booking this training for your school.

Developmental Language Disorder -DLD

Key facts

Developmental: starts in childhood, but continues
Language: sentences, vocabulary, grammar. Can be understanding and / or talking
Disorder: not something that a child will just grow out of
It is often called categorised as a ‘Hidden disability’.

Listen to lovely poem read by a child with DLD. (Dorset NHS Trust)

For more information:NAPLIC | Developmental Language Disorder, Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) – Afasic

Classroom Strategies to Support Pupils with Literacy KS2

Great learning at Arnhem Wharf Primary School led by LLC advisors Alison Haines and Tracey Grant. Staff delved into current theory and innovative practice leading to classroom success!

November 24th is No Pens Wednesday

What is No Pens Wednesday?*

It is a national day dedicated to speaking and understanding language which takes place in schools and settings annually. Click on the picture above, or link below to sign up and get lots of ideas to try in your class. There are ideas for Early Years, Primary and Secondary.

Why take part?

Speaking and understanding language are often overlooked in the UK education system in comparison to written language skills. However, as with literacy and numeracy, schools can play a crucial role in developing children’s skills in this important area.

No Pens Day Wednesday puts speaking and understanding language in the spotlight. Through a day of fun and engaging activities, schools and
settings can:

Raise awareness of the importance of speaking and understanding skills with staff, children and families.

Improve children and young people’s speaking and understanding skills and increase their engagement in lessons.

Support their curriculum’s focus on speaking and understanding language, and develop staff skills and confidence in teaching speaking and understanding skills.

Identify children who may have speech, language and communication needs and provide additional support.

Why is it so important?

Language levels at age two predict reading, writing and maths ability when children start school.

As many as 50% of children in some areas of social disadvantage start school with delayed language. Without early support, these children may struggle to catch up with their peers.

In Primary School:

Children who have difficulties speaking and understanding language are at a higher risk of behavioural, social and emotional difficulties in childhood and through adolescence.

More than 90% of children who have persistent language difficulties at age 5 have literacy difficulties at age 15.

In Secondary School: 

Good communication skills are rated as the most important employability skills needed for young people entering their first job – from a survey of schools, employers and politicians.

Up to 88% of long-term unemployed young men may have speech, language and communication needs.

*taken from the ICAN guide to the day

Continue reading

#ThinkLanguage #ThinkDLD

15th October is Developmental Language Disorder Awareness Day


Find out more at RADLD – click the link below and share with your colleagues


Download the DLD Strategy Tree to print out in your setting. Click the picture above

3a-DLD123-Info-sheet_HR (1)



DLD 1 Difficulties Talking and/or Understanding

Developmental Language Disorder is a diagnosis given when a child or adult has difficulties talking and/or understanding language

  • Involves difficulties with spoken language
  • Affects children and persists into adulthood
  • creates obstacles to communication at school, work and in everyday life
  • has no known cause although it may run in families

DLD 2 Hidden But Common

DLD is hidden and affects approximately 2 children in every classroom impacting on literacy, learning, friendships and emotional well-being

  • Can be missed, misdiagnosed or misinterpreted as poor behavior, poor listening or inattention
  • Was found in 7.5% of 4-5 year olds in a recent study
  • Affects a child’s ability to learn at school because learning is mainly through language
  • Affects reading or writing and is often linked with dyslexia
  • Can be socially isolating; joining in with conversations and activities with peers can be harder, there is an increased vulnerability to bullying
  • Increases the risk of lower academic achievement
  • Can be associated with behavioral and/or mental health problems, unemployment and economic disadvantage

DLD 3 Support Can Make A Real Difference

Support from professionals, including speech and language therapists and teachers, can make a real difference

  • It is important that DLD is identified so individuals can be adequately supported
  • Speech and language therapists and specialist teachers  can help those with DLD to develop skills and strategies, and to understand their difficulties and their strengths
  • DLD can be a long term difficulty thus adults with DLD may also need support and adjustments in the work place
  • Individuals with DLD are sociable and with appropriate support can have satisfying lives, with friendships, families, contributing to their community




See Dyslexia Differently- video from BDA

Click the image  above to see this short YouTube video from the British Dyslexia Association. It explores the possible difficulties and strengths of young people with dyslexia. It is three minutes long.

The video could be used pupils, parents, teachers and teaching assistants.

Dyslexia Awareness Week is:

October 4th-8th October 2021

Communication aids – technology is only the start

When a child or young person has difficulty with speaking technology can step in and quickly provide a means of communication. There are simple, dedicated, devices, like Big Macs and GoTalks , which are designed solely for the purpose of providing a voice, or there are apps to install on iPads and PCs. The first of these take short, recorded messages that are replayed when a button is pushed. The latter are more sophisticated and can be developed to do much more than provide speech, including controlling aspects of the environment, such as lighting and heating, or to operate the device, opening and closing apps, running searches and sending messages.

So there can be many factors involved in determining just what provision to make. Whilst these will include other functions we might want it to perform, there is also the language level of the user, and their capability, not just with words.

For instance, does the learner understand cause and effect, that their action, whether pressing a button or resting their eyes on part of the screen (if they are using eye gaze hardware) has made something happen?

Perhaps more fundamentally than that, do they have a cause to communicate, a reason to push the button and broadcast a message in the first place? For those with more challenging and complex needs they may be in a situation of having the people who care for them speaking on their behalf, making choices and guiding their lives. This is most probably for practical reasons, rather than a desire to take control. However, this can lead to a situation where the learner has learnt that other people do this so they don’t have the imperative to do it for themselves – sometimes referred to as ‘learnt helplessness.’

It might be that it is the learner themselves who is driving the shift to AAC by showing frustration that they can’t communicate effectively, perhaps they are becoming stressed, or acting up, because they are unable to let you know what they want.

Do they have the means to operate a device, whether by touching the screen, typing on the keyboard, operating a switch or a button of some sort, or using eyegaze? There is always some way that can be found to get control, perhaps through sipping and blowing through a mouthpiece, or even through electrodes attached to the skin that pick up electrical signals from the nervous system when an action is thought about, not just when it is actually carried out. Once this operation is found, the user has to be able to understand it and regulate it. Sometimes it may prove not be durable or inconsistent. An eyegaze user, for instance, may get very tired quite quickly due to the degree of concentration involved, or a part of the body may have involuntary tics. So there need be supporters around who understand this and who can make adjustments.

Can they take turns? Do they understand the process of communication whereby it is an interaction, not simply a request or a response? Is their communication a dialogue?

Often AAC is a next step, so has the learner already used communication methods such as signing, or a communication book, providing a base on which to build? If they have this often means they have an understanding of symbols, and of categorisation, both of which can be integral to its use. The first because they may not be fluent with text, the second in order to find the words and phrases they want to use, whether that is ‘food,’ or associated with ‘home,’ or perhaps ‘colours.’

They will also need to be able to navigate the system, moving between screens, using swipes and taps, and understanding where a ‘back button’ or ‘home icon’ might take them.

Crucially there is also the need for a support network around the child or young person. Central to this should be a speech and language therapist, just as when a child is learning to use their voice, because that is what this technology is, and to develop their skills they need expert support.

Others in the network will include school staff, not only teachers, teaching assistants, and technicians, but also lunchtime supervisors to help encourage its use. As it is the learner’s voice the device will need to be with them at all times – home, school, and out and about. Whilst this might not happen immediately, that should be the plan, so everyone will need to know how to maintain it, and update it. There might be grids of words specific to home, or certain situations such as a weekend football, so these may need to be developed as the users’ needs change.

It is also going to be important to plan reviews of its use, as  the learners needs might change and the provision has to continue to meet them.

Determining the resources a learner needs can often be fairly straightforward, it is making sure they are used effectively, and that they remain up to date, that can be the challenge.