Many of our students have difficulties with communication, either because they find it difficult to speak, they have no need to communicate, or they find it a challenge to read social language and situations. At Coppice, we are committed to ensuring that every student is given the equipment and opportunity to learn appropriate communication skills. To support this, we have certain key staff who specialise in communication as well as providing training for all staff to reach a suitable level of skill in working with students who have communication difficulties.

We have strong links with the Speech and Language Therapy (SALT):

  • Nicola Guttridge is our school SALT. She works across school providing sessions for young people who need specialist input and providing advice on promoting communication in all classes. She is in school on a Tuesday.

You can contact any of the SALT team via Coppice School, or they can be contacted via their base at Chequer Road Clinic, 01302 347429


All our teaching staff are Makaton Level 1 trained and support pupils to develop key word understanding through key signs and symbols.

PECS (Picture Exchange Communication)

From the moment pupils start in school, we support our pupils with PECS to enable our pupils to develop word level understanding and to provide them with a means to communicate, to make their wants and needs known.  PECS is a structured sequence which is organised into 6 phases.

Phases 1, 2 and 3 support pupil's to understand the need to exchange single cards and to develop an understanding to tell the difference between cards.

 Phases 4, 5 and 6 then build on this and support pupil's to create sentences to make their wants and needs known.

Communication Through Play

To further support our pupils communication skills in our explorer and independent learner classes, we have communication boards in our continuous provision areas to develop understanding of key words to support pupils to make their requests known and staff use these to narrate pupil's play to develop language further.

Communication at Home

For more information about communication systems used in school, please contact the school or visit the links to websites below which may be of interest: – is a charity which provides information and resources about the Makaton signing and symbol system. There are a range of resources to buy, but also some free downloads.

• – is an approach which we use widely in school to enable our young people to develop early interaction skills - how to enjoy being with other people, and learn the 'fundamentals of communication' - eye contact, facial expression, vocalisations leading to speech, taking turns and the structure of conversations. – is a charity which specialises in supporting children who have SLCN (Speech, Language and Communication Needs) both in special school and in mainstream settings. The website provides information and links to specialist areas relating to SLCN. – is designed for parents and offers help and advice on spotting SLCN and resources and opportunities to develop children’s speech, language and communication skills. – is a website dedicated to supporting communication and language. There is lots of information about language development, and plenty of free resources, often themed around children’s TV characters, which you can share with your child. – is a website dedicated to promoting literacy skills. Ideal if your child is developing reading and writing skills.