“It feels as if you’re in a different world.” “It’s frustrating: you know the word is there but you have to search for it.” “My brain can’t process as fast as other people’s can.”
These descriptions, of how it feels to have Developmental Language Disorder (DLD), come from students of Moor House School and College, a specialist school for children and young people with speech, language and communication needs. DLD affects the ability to understand and use language, and can have a far-reaching impact on the development of social skills, mental health and independence.
Although DLD is more common than autism – research shows approximately two children in every class of 30 could have it severely enough to impede academic progress – many teachers are unaware of it. Moor House is looking to raise awareness of the condition.
Rated Outstanding by OFSTED, Moor House School & College, in Hurst Green, opened in 1947 and is one of only a handful of UK schools that focuses on supporting students with speech and language disorders. It offers a highly differentiated mainstream curriculum, with bespoke lessons and therapists working alongside teachers in the classrooms. Children with DLD can struggle with life skills but a key part of the students’ education involves strategies to help with everyday tasks, including understanding instructions, social skills and preparing for work.
Attached to the school is the newly established Moor House Research and Training Institute, run by Director Dr Susan Ebbels. It carries out intervention research, and provides resources and certified training courses for professionals working with children with language disorders.
Marketing and Communications Officer James Skitt says:
“The right support for young people with DLD can be life-changing. The work our Institute does informs best practice within the school and also receives international recognition. Our online training courses are used by educators across the world.”
As well as forging links with schools through the Tandridge Teaching Alliance, specialist teacher and trainer Sue Marr wants to widen Moor House’s reach:
“We want to be an easily accessed source of DLD information: to ensure that any local parent or teacher, who may be concerned about a child’s language development, knows they can come to us for support.”
They are also keen to encourage Tandridge residents to join the Friends of Moor House association, which disseminates news and information, and forges links between the school and the community. This includes a range of opportunities for people to support the school, from walking the school’s therapy dogs, offering work experience placements or demonstrating a valuable skill to students.
Further information on DLD – plus free training courses for parents and teachers, and details of online open days – can be found at www.moorhouse.surrey.sch.uk