AWARD-winning speech pathologist Jess Campbell is helping make classrooms at Southern Cross Catholic College, Scarborough, language friendly for students with learning impairments.
Ms Campbell recently returned to NSW for the University of Sydney Awards where she was presented The Dean’s Scholar Medal as Valedictorian of Master of Speech Language Pathology.
This award followed closely on the heels of an earlier significant honour – Student of the Year, Prize for Academic Merit – awarded to her by Speech Pathology Australia.
At SCCC, Ms Campbell is helping implement the college’s Language Friendly Classroom – Action Learning for Teachers and School Staff program.
Ms Campbell said the aim of the evidence-based program was to help teachers to be more aware about the language they used in the classroom.
“We are training them to take some simple steps to simplify their language, either spoken or written, in order to make the curriculum more accessible for students with learning impairments,” she said.
Ms Campbell said a percentage of students had a language impairment or a difficultly with communication.
“When they arrive at secondary school that language can become even more complicated,” she said.
“Speech pathologists are good at identifying how teachers can exclude or include those students.
“What we do is not about spoon-feeding, it’s not about dumbing down the curriculum, it’s about making the language simple enough that everyone can access it, and that’s going to lead to more successful learners.
“When you include students they learn better and become more confident and more independent.”
Ms Campbell, who also spends time at St Columban’s College, Caboolture, said she loved working with the teachers, school officers and other staff at Southern Cross.
“They are amazing,” she said.
“These are really time-poor people, but they were willing to commit to our training and try out what we teach them in the classroom immediately.
“The way I see it is the teachers are the experts in the curriculum and students’ behaviour and the speech pathologists are experts in how information is transmitted and received.
“Once a speech pathologist comes in and directs attention to how information is transmitted and received, teachers can apply that immediately to their classes and particular students.
“In essence teachers are the ‘James Bond’ of the curriculum and we are ‘Q’, working away in the background, giving them the tools they need to accomplish their mission.
“That mission is to make classrooms language friendly so every student feels included.”