My SEND Career: Speech & Language Therapist

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Speech & Language Therapists (SLTs) perform various duties to help people who have difficulties with communication, eating, drinking or swallowing. SLTs can work with people of any age who may have learning difficulties, diseases, or physical disabilities which impede on their ability to communicate, including, but not limited to:

  • language disorders
  • speech impediments
  • hearing impairments
  • degenerative diseases
  • Autism
  • brain injuries

As an SLT, you may be required to work in a hospital, school, PRU, care home, special school, or community centre, with opportunities to progress your professional development in increasingly specialist ways. If you enjoy working with people, solving problems, being creative, and listening to and communicating with people, working as a Speech and Language Therapist could be the career path for you.

To get a flavour of the type of work SLTs do, you can arrange a visit to your local speech and language therapy team. Your local NHS health trust can put you in contact with your nearest speech and language therapy service which may organise a visit or open evening for people who are interested in the field.

How do I become a Speech & Language Therapist?

All speech and language therapists have to complete a degree course recognised by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). Most of these degrees require the equivalent of three A-level passes, and some require specific GCSEs and A-levels, so you should check the entry requirements of your education provider.

If you are already a graduate with a different degree, you may be able to take a postgraduate conversion course to qualify for HCPC registration.

If you are not a graduate and don’t want to take an academic route into Speech and Language Therapy, you can look for an opportunity to work as a Speech and Language Therapy Assistant. As an SLT assistant you would be working with qualified therapists by supporting patients to develop communication skills and developing and preparing therapy materials.

There are no formal educational requirements to become an SLT assistant, although relevant skills, experience, and qualifications from other areas can be beneficial. You can receive training on the job and might have the chance to complete an NVQ or BTEC qualification, or a healthcare apprenticeship.

What does an SLT do at a school?

Schools can work directly with local therapy services and schools often have relationships with their local authority to allow for this, or can employ a speech and language therapist directly themselves.

SLTs play an important role in schools, supporting teachers and other staff to meet the needs of children with Speech, Language, and Communication Needs (SLCN) as well as working directly with the children themselves.

SLTs also play a key role in diagnosing children with speech, language and communication needs, as well as creating and delivering support for children with these needs once a diagnosis has been made.

Having SLT training will be helpful in many educational settings, and will make you a more attractive teacher when applying to work in SEND environments.

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