What is Speech and Language Therapy?
Speech and Language Therapists (SaLTs) are allied health professionals who work with children and adults who have difficulties with their communication or their eating, drinking and swallowing skills. When working with children and young people, SaLTs may support a range of different areas including:
- Attention and listening
- Receptive language (understanding of language)
- Expressive language (talking and use of language)
- Speech sounds skills
- Social skills
- Eating and drinking skills
SaLTs work closely with those around the child or young person such as parents, carers, teachers, support staff and other professionals.
How does Verbo work?
Each school or setting who signs up to Verbo will have their own online dashboard. This allows them to add staff users (e.g. teachers, support staff) who will each get a login to the platform and have instant access to everything available. There are screening tools which help staff identify need, automatically generated targets with recommended resources, a huge content library of videos demonstrating activities and interventions with downloadable resources, staff training webinars, target tracking tools, personalised data reporting and much more! The tools and resources are designed to empower and upskill staff to provide communication support to all children and young people across their setting.
What is the evidence base for Verbo?
Some of the key principles of Verbo are the importance of upskilling the wider workforce, training the workforce to identify need and provide intervention in a timely and appropriate manner and supporting pupils at a universal, targeted and specialist level. These principles are all informed by The Balanced System ® which is a theoretically driven but practically tested model that has been developed over 10 years.
As NHS clinicians, we are driven to provide evidence-based therapy. The therapy approaches, interventions and activities that are included on Verbo are all things we would recommend to schools if we were working face to face with them. Each approach has its own evidence base and where appropriate we have worked with any specific creators of those approaches to get permission to include downloadable resources for schools alongside our videos.
Verbo is a relatively new product so we are in the process of collecting long-term impact data from schools who are using the platform to support their pupils with speech, language and communication needs. We will share this information in due course.
In a climate where Speech and Language Therapy provisions are having to scale back, providing online support in this way and being creative in how we support children and young people (CYP) will allow more children to get support at the right time ensuring that they don’t miss out.
What does Verbo cost?
Verbo is a subscription-based programme with different packages available for individual schools, multi-school trusts, speech and language therapy teams, local authorities, ICBs or other regional commissioners. Please see our pricing page for more information and to get a personalised quote for your setting.
How does Verbo work alongside my local Speech and Language Therapist?
Verbo can complement your current Speech and Language Therapy provision by providing additional universal and targeted support for pupils. By upskilling school staff to provide communication support at these levels, it will free up your local therapist to provide more specialist support. We recommend you work alongside your local therapist to identify which pupils can be supported by Verbo and which pupils will be supported by your local therapist. It may be that you decide to use Verbo to support pupils who are on the waiting list to be seen by your local therapist, pupils who don’t meet the threshold for therapy or pupils who you are unsure whether they need a referral. Your local therapist will be able to access the platform allowing you to share screening information and target progress with them for individual pupils.
We don’t have a local Speech and Language Therapist for my school. Can I use Verbo instead?
Verbo is designed to support pupils at a universal and targeted level. Our aim is to help education staff develop their knowledge and skills and empower them to provide speech and language therapy support for pupils at these levels. However, there are likely to be children and young people (CYP) in your setting who require more specialist input and for these children it is important to refer to your local Speech and Language Therapy service. Verbo may have some advice and ideas for you to use whilst you wait for specialist input. Communication difficulties that are likely to need more specialist input include persistent stammering/stuttering, articulation or speech sound difficulties, eating, drinking or swallowing difficulties and more complex communication difficulties.
Can parents access the resources on the platform?
Yes! Verbo allows you to create a pupil profile for pupils who you choose to provide targeted support for. With this, you can complete a screening tool to help identify specific areas of need which will automatically generate recommended targets and resources. For these pupils you can choose to create a parent profile which will give parents their own login and a restricted view of the platform. Parents will be able to see which targets have been selected for their child and look at the videos and resources related to those targets. They will also be able to see the progress made and write comments to let you know how the children are doing with those targets at home. We hope this enables parents to be more aware and involved in their child’s therapy and also supports them to use the relevant activities and strategies at home with their child.
Is the screener the same as a Speech and Language Therapy assessment?
No. Verbo has different screeners for different key stages (EYFS through to KS4). They include a series of yes/no questions that are designed to be completed by a teacher or member of staff who knows the pupil well. The pupil does not need to be present and is not required to do any particular tasks. Based on the staff member’s responses, the screener will identify what area(s) of need the particular pupil has and will automatically generate suggested targets to work on. This should provide staff with strategies and ideas to begin supporting pupils. Some pupils may require a more thorough and in-depth assessment with a speech and language therapist. The screener results will suggest you refer for onward assessment with a Speech and Language Therapist or other professional if needed for specific areas of need. Similarly, if you have been supporting a pupil using Verbo and you are concerned about the progress they are making, an assessment with a therapist may be required. The screeners can be used as part of your plan-do-review cycle for a particular pupil and the information used to inform onward referrals.
Should I complete a screener for all pupils in my school?
We recommend completing a screener for pupils who you would like to provide targeted support to. This may be pupils you have already identified as having some speech, language or communication needs, pupils who you have some concerns about and want help identifying their needs and planning support, pupils who are on a waiting list to be seen by your local speech and language therapist or pupils who don’t meet the threshold to be seen by your local therapist but who would still benefit from support.
I work in a special school/specialist provision. Can I still use Verbo?
Verbo was initially designed to be used in mainstream primary and secondary schools. However, some special schools have used Verbo and found there are useful tools and resources to support their pupils. How useful Verbo is for your school is likely to depend on the complexity of needs of your pupils. We recommend you sign up for a free trial and complete a screener for a pupil. This will give you an opportunity to explore the tools and resources and see if they seem useful for your pupils. Our screeners and resources are labelled according to what key stage they are relevant for. You may find it helpful to think about these labels more flexibly and consider using resources from a lower key stage for your pupils.