Testing SEND and EAL students

Testing SEND students

The purpose of WellComm is to aid in the identification of children who may have or be at risk of developing a speech and language difficulty or delay. It is therefore important that the child's true abilities at that moment in time are reflected in the results. This should be taken into account when considering SEND accommodations. 

Assessors should consider any factors that may influence any aspect of the testing or scoring process, including but not limited to: 

  • The age of the student versus their current stage of education
  • Any already known SEND requirements
  • Potential response bias
  • Environmental factors
  • Second language home environment (please see the section below on testing with EAL students)

Working with children who have English as an Additional Language (EAL)

The focus of WellComm is on identifying underlying language difficulties, rather than problems with second language acquisition. We would always recommend screening in the child’s strongest language (which may change over time). It is possible to screen bilingual children (or children who have only just started acquiring English) in English to obtain an idea of how their English is progressing, but this wouldn’t reflect the child’s true language skills. Bilingualism is an asset, with proven cognitive benefits, and the first language has a continuing and significant role in identity, learning and the acquisition of additional languages. Thus, it is vital that all languages are nurtured, supported and challenged as part of the holistic learning process.

The WellComm Screening Tool can be completed in one or more languages, by using a translator. When working with translated materials, it is important to ensure that the question is the same as far as possible. Be aware that a translator may give extra clues to help children point to the correct picture, for example. However, the building up of the profile collaboratively with parents means that all information is essentially double checked. It is also a good idea to create a profile for each language that the child speaks so that the variation in skill can be monitored and tracked, as again, the dominant language may change over time.

First-hand experiences provide the most effective context for learning language. A cooking activity or a trip to a local shop will provide excellent opportunities to introduce or confirm language which children can recreate and rehearse in role-play with a supportive adult. Adults who are able to do so should give further support by supplying relevant vocabulary in home languages. Opportunities to take copies of such symbols home to share with families can support language learning and extend home-to-setting links. Parents can also extend the home-language learning by supplying verbal or written captions to the pictures you have supplied.