How do therapists work in schools?

By Therapy Focus

In addition to home, office and community visits, our therapists work collaboratively with teachers and education staff to embed therapy strategies in classroom routines and school-based activities.

The following article provides information and answers to commonly asked questions about how we deliver therapy in school settings.

How do I arrange for my child to receive therapy at school?

When your child’s goals are best supported in an educational setting, we offer what is called a School Interface Meeting (SIM). A SIM is an opportunity for a school representative to meet with the local therapy team, or the team leader, to develop a partnership and shared understandings, which ensures therapy and educational goals complement each other. A SIM is also a chance to learn about the local therapy team and the services we offer, as well as discuss how the therapy team can work within the school setting effectively. An example of this would be that we would try as much as possible not to remove the child from the classroom, if appropriate. We see this meeting as an investment in the communities we work within. Therefore, we do not charge for SIM meetings. Please be aware that not all schools will be offered a SIM. This may be because therapists have an ongoing relationship or historical relationship with the school or the school prefers for therapists to meet with individual teachers as required.

Many schools are happy for their students to access therapy on-site.

Once permission has been granted your child’s Key Worker or Administration Officer will contact their teacher to discuss appropriate times for therapy to take place. This is reviewed on a term by term basis.

We believe that teamwork is vital to achieving positive outcomes. Our aim is always to help, not hinder your child – or their teacher and peers. We do not want to cause disruption and adopt a consistent approach that works for everyone.

Two therapists sitting with a primary school student

Pictured: Two Therapy Focus therapists sit with a primary school student.

What does therapy look like at school?

The goal of providing therapy to a child at school is to help them access the curriculum and enhance learning within the school environment.

A therapist supports your child in a classroom setting, working shoulder to shoulder with your child and educational staff. For example, we might be:

  • Helping your child with social and communication skills, so they can express themselves in class or socialise with friends at lunchtime.
  • Working on emotional regulation skills, so your child can manage their emotions during the school day and be able to actively participate in the class.
  • Working on mobility skills, so your child can move around the classroom or between classes more independently.

Our work also extends to supporting and upskilling teaching staff and other students. For example, a speech pathologist may spend time with your child’s teacher to identify specific challenges your child is experiencing. Speech pathologists may also give them advice on how to best relay information to your child. We can provide whole school training in topics that are relevant to all children, to allow strategies to be implemented and support all children.

There may occasionally be 1:1 work outside the classroom. This allows your child to focus on skill development separately, in preparation for using those skills within the classroom or school setting. We want to support your child and their school in achieving educational outcomes.

How do I find out what my child is doing in their school therapy sessions?

At the beginning of each of our customer’s journeys, we have a discussion with their support network regarding their communication preferences.

This includes how you might like to discuss your child’s progress.

For some parents, this could be a short call after the first few sessions. For others, it could be a photo of your child, a text, an email or a full copy of session notes from the therapist.

At the end of each term, we touch base with the child’s parent/support network and teacher to discuss progress and outcomes and plans for the following term.

Two therapists and a primary school student smiling at the camera

Pictured: Two Therapy Focus therapists sit with a primary school student.

What if my child’s school will not agree to therapy?

Some schools, for various reasons, prefer that therapy does not occur during school hours. We can help you talk to the school to provide information and reassurance. However, there is no guarantee permission will be granted.

Some schools, such as Education Support Centres, have specific preferences for how external therapists work in their schools. We always work to accommodate these preferences as much as possible.

We believe it is a team effort.

It is important to remember that a school therapy visit does not replace the need for home visits, or replace you working with your child on specific goals at home. We encourage parents and support networks to embrace working with their child’s therapy team, educators and other health professionals.

View our downloadable How we Work in Schools Fact Sheet.

Want to know more?

Learn more about our school-aged therapy services or call us on 1300 135 373.