Education and therapy staff work together as part of a multi-disciplinary team, which is designed to meet the wide-ranging needs of pupils attending Herons Dale Primary School.

Liaison with therapists is a key role for teaching and support staff, and this takes place via formal meetings and appointments as well as through less formal discussions.

Pupils may access one or a combination of the following therapies, this will be determined by what is identified on a child’s EHCP:

  • Speech and Language therapy
  • Physiotherapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • School health team

Speech and Language Therapy

Speech and Language Therapists (SaLTs) work with children in school who have Speech and Language therapy identified in their EHCP, their roles include;

Help students to fulfil their communicative potential

Promote language and communication skills within the classroom and wider school environment

Enable pupils to access the curriculum, learn and make progress

They support the development of pupils’ skills in the following areas:

Attention and Listening

Understanding and Use of Language

Spontaneous and Independent (Functional) Communication

Speech clarity

Social interaction & Communication

Use of alternative methods of communication e.g. PECS, high-tech communication aids

Eating and drinking
They aim to maximise pupils’ eating, drinking and swallowing skills, including:

Accepting/tolerating different textures and tastes of foods and drinks



Our speech and language therapist is Sarah Done, she works at Herons Dale two days a week.


Physiotherapy is aimed at helping the children to develop and maintain their mobility skills, joint range of movement, muscle strength, and motor skills. They give advice on activities to help to improve their access to the curriculum.

Many children who are seen in school are already known to our service and will have received treatment before starting school. Children will also be seen at the request of the school upon referral. The following criteria apply:

 there is a delay in achieving their motor milestones

 they have an identified neurological/ rheumatology conditions

 they demonstrate difficulties with balance and coordination that affect their academic achievements and activities of daily living

 there is a deterioration in their physical abilities

 they require physical rehabilitation following injury, medical condition, or surgery.


Physiotherapy support is provided through:

Programs that are integrated into daily routines both at home and school

Training of school staff to implement physiotherapy programs

Provision of equipment to assist with standing, walking, seating (to enhance balance and function) and lying postures as part of a pupil’s postural management program

Therapy sessions occur within the classrooms as these are the most important environments for enhancing our pupils’ learning, as well as in therapy rooms.


Hazel Blake, community paediatric physiotherapist of Sussex Community Trust is the physiotherapist in school.

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy (OT) can support children who have OT identified on their EHCP. OT can help children with various needs including cognitive, physical, sensory, and motor skills and enhance their self-esteem and sense of accomplishment:

Seating and positioning – specialised equipment, seating, toilet and bath equipment and cutlery

Hand function – Manipulation and writing skills

Learning skills – perception, problem-solving and planning. Making sense of the world around them

Self-care skills – eating and drinking, personal care and domestic skills

Sensory skills – e.g. touch, movement, smell, taste

Sensory diets

Play – the child’s use of toys and play through their development

In a special school, OT’s know that children may have varying degrees of difficulty due to a number of factors. Their role is to support children to develop their daily living skills, for example, dressing, washing, eating, drinking, preparing snacks, personal hygiene, accessing the curriculum including recording work, accessing school outings, participation and access to play and leisure activities. The Occupational Therapist helps support and supplements these skills. What we hope to provide is an Occupational Therapy Service that enables collaborative working and joint goal setting and action planning.

Musical Therapy

Music therapy is a method of creative communication which takes place within a therapeutic relationship developed over a series of regular sessions. These sessions can be 1:1 or in a group environment. Music is essentially a social activity which involves communication, listening and sharing. A music therapist is trained to observe the underlying needs and behaviours of the client. It is often used when verbal skills are limited due to a physical or learning disability. Through working together in a safe environment, the creation of a place to explore and express feelings is nurtured.

Making connections through music can have a positive impact on:


sense of identity

communication skills

social skills

Although music therapy does not directly teach musical skills, it contributes to musical development by encouraging:

awareness of pitch and rhythm

vocal confidence

spontaneity and creativity

improved listening skills

greater concentration

Ruth Spencer is the music therapist at Herons Dale Primary School, she works every Tuesday with a number of 1:1 and group sessions

Play Therapy

What is Play Therapy?

Play Therapy helps children understand muddled feelings and upsetting events that they haven’t had the chance to sort out properly. Rather than having to explain what is troubling them, as adult therapy usually expects, children use play to communicate at their own level and at their own pace, without feeling interrogated or threatened.

How can Play Therapy help my child?

Play is vital to every child’s social, emotional, cognitive, physical, creative and language development. It helps make learning concrete for all children and young people including those for whom verbal communication may be difficult.

Play Therapy helps children in a variety of ways. Children receive emotional support and can learn to understand more about their own feelings and thoughts. Sometimes they may re-enact or play out traumatic or difficult life experiences in order to make sense of their past and cope better with their future. Children may also learn to manage relationships and conflicts in more appropriate ways.

The outcomes of Play Therapy may be general e.g. a reduction in anxiety and raised self-esteem, or more specific such as a change in behaviour and improved relations with family and friends.

What will happen in my child’s Play Therapy sessions?

Your child’s Play Therapist will have a large selection of play materials from which your child may choose. These may include art and craft materials, dressing up props, sand and water, clay, small figures and animals, musical instruments, puppets and books. The Play Therapist will enable your child to use these resources to express him or herself without having to provide verbal explanations.

Rebound Therapy

Rebound Therapy is the use of trampolines to facilitate movement, promote balance, promote an increase or decrease in muscle tone, promote relaxation, promote sensory integration, improve fitness and exercise tolerance, and to improve communication skills.

The therapy involves using the moving bed of the trampoline to promote movement in the participant. By carrying out basic through to highly technical physiotherapy techniques on the trampoline, the therapy can provide many therapeutic and physiological benefits:


Facilitate and promote movement and balance

Improve fitness

Increase or decrease muscle tone

Help relax the participant

Improve sensory integration

Improve concentration

Improve communication skills


Children access rebound therapy at Impulse Leisure, Southwick. The sessions are weekly and run by fully trained rebound therapists

The Therapies in School project have written an accredited training programme for all teaching staff.  The training programme covers three modules including Physical Development, Sensory Processing and Life Skills and is taught by the physiotherapist and occupational therapists on the project. 

Level 1 is compulsory for all school staff. A smaller number will go on to complete Level 2 and 3 to increase their knowledge and skills in a particular topic. The aim of the training programme is to provide all staff with the foundation knowledge in these areas and provide ideas on how to further support the therapeutic needs of the pupils in the classroom. 

The training has also been offered to parents in the form of workshops, please keep an eye on Herons Dale Facebook page for when the workshops will be held.