Welcome to Furze Down School’s Therapy Team. We are an experienced team of Speech and Language Therapists, Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapy Assistants dedicated in supporting our students to achieve their potential.
Nikki Dutfield – Head of Therapy
Kelsey Ayton – Clinical Lead for Speech and Language Therapy
Cheryl Parker – Clinical Lead for Occupational Therapy
Kate Makepeace – Specialist Speech and Language Therapist
Michelle Harford – Specialist Speech and Language Therapist
Sophie Gager – Specialist Speech and Language Therapist
Jess Wiegman – Speech and Language Therapist
Rachel Terry – Speech and Language Therapist
Fern Yull – Speech and Language Therapy Assistant
Dimitra Charalambous – Specialist Occupational Therapist
Naomi Troy – Specialist Occupational Therapist
Rachel Speer – Specialist Occupational Therapist
Alix Gibbard – Occupational Therapist
Gemma Stokes – Multi-Therapy Assistant
Sofia Casaubold Stovold – Physiotherapy Assistant
Therapy Provision at Furze Down School
The focus of therapy at Furze Down is always on helping the student to develop functional skills for communication and to reach optimal level of independence. A dedicated therapist delivers bespoke training to every member of school staff and each class is assigned their own Speech and Language Therapist and Occupational Therapist, who works within the classroom and outdoor spaces in an integrated way. The key difference to therapy at Furze Down School is that our focus is not on 1:1 therapy. Instead, we pride ourselves on the results we achieve from working alongside our teaching staff across the school day.
As part of the Speech and Language Therapy support, strategies for developing communication skills and encouraging meaningful communication and interaction are embedded throughout school, following a ‘Total Communication’ approach. Any effort at communication, including sign, gesture, speech, behaviour and the use of symbols and high-tech aids is valued and encouraged. Every student’s communication skills are assessed when they first enter school, either formally (through a standardised assessment) or informally (through observation and discussion with classroom staff) but usually a combination of both.
As part of the Occupational Therapy support, students will receive support for gross motor and fine motor skills as well as responding to their sensory needs through intervention and education. Students are supported in all their independence skills, including basic activities of daily living such as dressing and using cutlery, through to community engagement. Every student’s motor skills, sensory processing, visual perception, school- based skills such as cutting out and writing, as well as independence skills are assessed when they first enter school, either formally (through a standardised assessment) or informally (through observation and discussion with classroom staff) but usually a combination of both. Not all students within the school will require Occupational Therapy provision.
Students are allocated a provision level according to their current needs, diagnosis, functional skills and presentation within school. In line with Royal College of Speech & Language Therapy and Royal College of Occupational Therapy recommendations, there are three levels of provision; Universal, Targeted and Specialist.
- All students will receive a Universal level of provision. This includes being taught by highly specialist teachers who have access to bespoke training from a Specialist Speech and Language Therapist and Specialist Occupational Therapist. From their first day working in school, classroom staff learn to understand our students’ difficulties and are taught specific tools and strategies such as Makaton signing, Interoception, Shape coding, Comic Strip Conversations and sensory supports which are used universally across school. Therapists are also in class working alongside the teachers on a weekly basis. Therapists continually review Universal provision across the school and ensure it is happening to a high and consistent standard in all areas. All therapists act as contributors to the curriculum and are always available to offer advice and support.
- Some students will receive a Targeted level of provision. This includes focused therapy within the classroom, and occasionally working with the student individually or in a small group to introduce a new skill. The focus of Targeted provision is to practice skills in different contexts and settings, such as with friends, in the playground and with different people around school. Interventions may also include the provision of programmes, with a trained LSA or therapy assistant to deliver the programme. General equipment or adaptive devices may also be provided.
- A few students will receive a Specialist level of provision. Following the latest evidence on the importance of generalising skills to enable functional and meaningful progress, this provision also takes place in every context across the school day. Students will receive intensive support from the therapist and classroom team together. The therapist may work with the student individually, in a small group or in class. Specialist equipment such as supportive seating, transfer equipment or AAC devices can also be provided.