Indirect language therapy for children with persistent language impairment in mainstream primary schools: outcomes from a cohort intervention

Elspeth McCartney, James Boyle, Sue Ellis, Susan Bannatyne, Mary Turnbull

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A manualized language therapy developed via a randomized controlled trial had proved efficacious in the short-term in developing expressive language for mainstream primary school children with persistent language impairment. This therapy had been delivered to a predetermined schedule by speech and language therapists or speech and language therapy assistants to children individually or in groups. However, this model of service delivery is no longer the most common model in UK schools, where indirect consultancy approaches with intervention delivered by school staff are often used. A cohort study was undertaken to investigate whether the therapy was equally efficacious when delivered to comparable children by school staff, rather than speech and language therapists or speech and language therapy assistants. Children in the cohort study were selected using the same criteria as in the randomized controlled trial, and the same manualized therapy was used, but delivered by mainstream school staff using a consultancy model common in the UK. Outcomes were compared with those of randomized controlled trial participants. The gains in expressive language measured in the randomized controlled trial were not replicated in the cohort study. Less language-learning activity was recorded than had been planned, and less than was delivered in the randomized controlled trial. Implications for 'consultancy' speech and language therapist service delivery models in mainstream schools are outlined.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-82
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Language and Communication Disorders
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2011


  • speech and language therapy
  • specific language impairment
  • evidence-based practice
  • teachers
  • education
  • expressive language

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