The Link Centre
Specialist provision for students who have a hearing loss
Fareham Academy’s Resource Provision for students who have a hearing loss aims to allow students access to; a mainstream curriculum, a supportive environment where their needs are met by staff that understand their difficulties and a specialist person-centred provision. (Hampshire County Council, 2019, p.2).
Hampshire Country Council Special Educational Needs Department allocate students a place in the Resourced Provision if they meet the following criteria; they have an educational health care plan (EHCP) where their primary need is having a hearing loss that significantly impacts upon their learning, they have a minimum of a severe hearing loss and they have another special educational need.
The Academy has a Teacher of the Deaf in training (estimated completion date: Summer 2020). It also has specialist communication support staff. If they are working with students who need British Sign language (BSL) they have or are in the process of obtaining Level 3. Children who have an identified Speech and Language Need on their EHCP will have access to Speech and Language therapy through the NHS and/or Springboard Speech and Language (Springboard). All mainstream teachers have access to whole school deaf awareness training to ensure mainstream inclusion.
At Fareham Academy we actively promote and encourage a total communication approach, where we use a combination of; British Sign Language, finger spelling, nature gesture, lip-reading, speaking and listening and visual support to aid effective communication with students who have a hearing loss.
Fareham Academy has an ethos in which children with a hearing loss are accepted and understood. To support this, every mainstream classroom has a deaf awareness poster and a poster with ‘everyday signs’ to ensure both staff and students have a shared level of understanding. Students and staff can also attend our lunchtime signing club with one of our communication support workers.
We recognise the importance of speaking and listening in order for students to access learning and social communication to ensure they are fully integrated into the world and therefore we ensure students have access to the appropriate amplification.
When in the Link Centre, children will have access to a good listening environment as the provision has been acoustically treated. In the mainstream classroom, children will have access to a radio aid to ensure they can access the teacher’s voice over background noise. The Teacher of the Deaf will also test and balance the students' radio aids to ensure they are giving our students the most benefit in noisy environments.
A member of staff from the Link Centre will visually check student’s hearing aid to ensure there are no physical issues that could stop the hearing aid working. Then the member of staff will carry out a listening check to listen to the quality of the microphone. They will ensure students have access to the LING sounds.
The LING sounds cover the frequency range of speech. They are; ah, oo, ee, mm, sh, ss. We test for; detection, identification and production.
The Teacher of the Deaf will carry out electro acoustic checks. We use the test box to check the output of the student’s personal amplification equipment. The check is carried out after the student is seen at clinic and or has been upgraded with new equipment. We then produce and save the student’s gain curve for a point of reference of when the student’s personal application equipment was working effectively and can then observe if future output curves match the original curve. Any issues with be reported to audiology.
Speech Discrimination Testing
To ascertain how well students can hear and decode spoken word, the Teacher of the Deaf will annually carry out the Speech in Noise test. The results will allow us to determine what access to speech they are having in; quiet, background noise and evaluate the effectiveness of radio aids.
Speech and Language
Children will have direct or indirect access to a speech and language therapist from the NHS and / or Springboard.
Springboard Speech and Language are a Hampshire based speech and language therapy provider. We have an annual service level agreement with Springboard and their therapists visit school on a weekly basis. Springboard therapists work alongside the Teacher of the Deaf and support staff working within the centre. Where required they also work directly with specific pupils, e.g. for assessment or direct therapy.
Teaching and Learning
At Fareham Academy we aim to ensure students have appropriate integration with the mainstream school. Students will have appropriately skilled teaching and in-class support staff. Staff will ensure there is access to enhanced visual support for learning and organisational skills. We also ensure as well as being supported, children with a hearing loss are challenged appropriately. This is ensured as students have access to ongoing review and assessment tools.