Communication is at the heart of everything we do at St Matthew’s. It is the key skill needed to access the world and the people in it. Communication is vital to every aspect of our lives. It impacts on our choices, emotions, self-esteem, relationships and self-expression. Therefore, it is fundamental to wellbeing and quality of life. Through communication, children build relationships with others and can make their needs, thoughts, ideas and feelings known.

At St Matthew’s, we value all pupils and their communication methods. Some children don’t communicate through speech, which is why we need to use a Total Communication Approach. To do this, we work in partnership with Speech and Language Therapists and Ladywood Outreach staff to equip pupils with communication strategies which work for them.

What is a Total Communication Approach?

The total communication approach is about finding and using the right combination of communication methods for each child. This approach helps an individual to form connections, ensures successful interactions and supports information exchanges and conversations.


Total communication includes:

  1. Speech   
  2. Body language
  3. Facial expression
  4. Signing and gesture
  5. Vocalisations
  6. Symbols, visuals, photographs
  7. PECS (picture exchange)
  8. Written words
  9. Hearing
  10. Touch
  11. Taste
  12. Art
  13. Music
  14. Contextual cues
  15. Behaviour


We all communicate in different ways and we believe each way should be equally respected. 

Individual Communication Needs

Some children require personalised speech and language plans to ensure they have access to appropriate strategies related to their stage of development, such as PECS or signing.

Having a whole school approach to Total Communication ensures these children can participate and contribute as fully as they can.

A Total Communication Approach at St Matthew’s

At St Matthew’s, we use a range of communication strategies and approaches in order to enable children with communication difficulties develop their skills. Some children use PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) and many benefit from the use of visuals and symbols to support their understanding. (Such as using a visual timetable to help children understand what is happening throughout the day.)

What is Signalong?

Signalong is a key word sign-supported communication system based on British sign language.  It uses speech, sign, body language, facial expression and voice tone to reference the link between sign and word. It is designed to support spoken language, so the signs are used with speech, in spoken word order.

Our Signalong Journey

At St Matthew’s, we have some children who use signing to help them understand and communicate with others. As part of our whole school Total Communication Approach, we have begun to learn the signs for core vocabulary during whole school worship. We are really excited about using Signalong throughout school to ensure everyone feels included, valued and understood.

Signing at Home

We have created Signalong video clips to help you support your child's use of Signalong at home. We will add a new sign every week. Have fun learning and using these signs as a family!    

Wait, listen, read

Help, dinner, sorry

Mum and Dad

Good afternoon, please, thank you 

Good morning





Grandmother and Grandfather

Happy and Sad

Brother and Sister


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