Augmentative Alternate Communication

AAC can be defined as follows: ‘Augmentative Alternate Communication' (AAC) refers to any means by which an individual can supplement or replace spoken communication. Communication may range from any movement or behaviour that is observed and interpreted by another person as meaningful, to the use of a code agreed upon between people where items have specific meanings, i.e. a language.


At Saxon Hill, we believe everyone has the right to be heard and know that they have been listened to. All pupils at Saxon Hill can communicate but some require the rest of the school community to take time to enter into a dialogue. Our aim is for all non-verbal pupils or pupils with limited verbal communication to have in place communication tools that are understood by staff and fellow pupils. AAC (augmentative alternate communication) is recognised as cross-curricular and is vital for pupils to be able to access and engage with the curriculum. Progress and attainment within a pupil’s communication and/ or English targets are recorded termly and shared with parents during parents’ evening, EHCP reviews and end of year reports.


A pupil’s communication needs are assessed within the school setting using a combination of individual assessments: classroom observations by the class team, observations by a SALT or the communication lead and liaison between staff and family. At Saxon Hill, we use a variety of AAC tools to build our total communication approach. Such tools can include PODD, Makaton, VOCAs (Voice Output Communication Aids), Objects of Reference, TaSSeLs, Intensive Interaction etc. Class teachers liaise with a range of professionals and use their own observations to decide which approach may work for a specific pupil. This is then trialled, adapted and changed if needed. 

All staff are provided with regular training linking to communication in school as well as external training opportunities. Teachers are also provided with additional CPD (Counting Professional Development) opportunities and are able to offer bespoke support with adapting AAC tools from SALT, MSI specialists and the communication lead.


Pupils at Saxon Hill will have access to a range of AAC tools, which meet their needs and abilities. As part of our total communication approach, staff will promote and model the AAC tools that are most appropriate for the individual pupil to enable them to develop their communication skills. This will unlock many learning opportunities across the curriculum for our pupils, as well as improve their mental health and wellbeing and increase levels of engagement. A pupil should be able to transfer the communication skills that they learn at Saxon Hill into the wider community, empowering them to access further opportunities outside of the school environment as well. 


PODD book P2G makaton objects

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