An SEN HLTA shows how she encourages communication skills In February 2010, a Teachers TV audience voted mother-of-two Jane Brown the Most Talented TA in the UK. She’s an HLTA at the Elms Special School on Merseyside, working with students with Down’s Syndrome and Asperger’s Syndrome. She believes communication is the basis for all learning, achieved by every means possible.
Jane leads the training of TAs, teachers and parents in Makaton, a simplified sign language and one of the principal forms of interaction throughout the school. Mostly she works on her own, with targeted pupils from nursery age to nineteen. With pre-verbal children she focuses one on one, using physical contact and symbols to tease out the first glimmer of a response. Older students speak and sign in lively group sessions she’s designed to improve their confidence and conversation.
But the highlight of Jane’s job is her work with the choir. She teaches young people of all abilities the signs to their favourite songs, joining in as they sing their hearts out.