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Supporting transition for pupils with SLCN – pre-school to primary


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Transition from preschool into the reception class can be an exciting time for children and their families or carers.

Transition is generally well-supported through a careful universal transition process. However, children with additional needs, including those with speech, language and communication difficulties, may find this time particularly challenging and could require enhanced arrangements to support a successful transition.

This guide builds on the useful guidance provided by the Early Years Team and outcomes of the multi-agency SLCN preschool transition group, representing the Speech and Language Therapy Service, Communication and Interaction Team, Educational Psychology Service, Nursery Plus and the Early Years Advisory Team.

Strategies to support transition for SLCN: universal, targeted and specialist

Universal transition arrangements support all children, including useful strategies such as:

  • ‘All about me’ book
  • information about the school provided in a visual format, for example, photographs
  • visits to get familiar with the setting and to develop relationships
  • home-school communication book

Targeted transition support may be required for children with additional needs, including those with SLCN. The above strategies should be enhanced as needed, and some additional strategies could also be considered:

  • A communication passport outlining the child’s communication profile, strategies which are/ are not useful, visuals required by the child, scores and summary of advice from any relevant assessments.
  • A transition plan with time frames.
  • Information sharing – Speech and Language Therapy report, setting-based assessments, more in-depth consideration of the EYFS.

Specialist transition packages may be needed for children with more significant SLCN. The universal and targeted strategies would be in place, with some possible further actions:

  • Support services may assist with the transition process. A Speech and Language Therapy referral would be in place by this point. An additional referral can be made to the Communication and Interaction Team in the last term of preschool to ensure that the SLCN Advisory Teachers are aware of the child and able to support early intervention at an early stage of primary schooling
  • Additional layers of support could be considered such an EHCP, risk assessment, staffing
  • Individualised transition plan with timeframes, regular review, audit of staff training, adaptations to a total communication school environment
  • Parents/carers can share videos with the new teacher showing how their child typically communicates
  • Personal photo book to support the child’s communication attempts (important items for the child)
    Reception teacher to prepare for early SLCN assessment and intervention

See also the useful blogs below by Maxine Burns from the children’s speech and language charity ICAN for practical tips to help with the transition from preschool:

Referral process

The Communication and Interaction team accepts referrals for children with SLCN at specialist level in the last term of preschool (please use the referral form on our website). This process is supported by a range of multi-agency professionals, including Nursery Plus, the Educational Psychology Service and Children’s Speech and Language Therapy team, who are able to submit the referral or else guide the setting to make the referral, with parent/carer permission. The pupil with SLCN should have been seen by a SALT or may be waiting for an appointment.

Websites about SLCN: