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Speech, Language and Communication Needs Service (SENS)

Luton Council's SENS works with staff in early years/educational settings to improve practice and support the removal of barriers to learning for children identified with:

  • global developmental delay
  • teluctance to speak or diagnosed with selective mutism
  • language delay not linked to a disorder - receptive, expressive, social language development
  • social communication difficulties, some of which may go on to receive a diagnosis of autism.

Access to SENS is via referral from schools only.

A range of support available to Early Years and maintained schools including:

  • observation and assessment of a referred child (in setting) with written report with practicable recommendations for overcoming barriers to learning iw sent to:
    • the school
    • parents
    • relevant professionals
  • support in setting targets for referred child’s individual education plan
  • support when planning for referred child’s move to first school or subsequent school
  • liaison with NHS SaLT and other health colleagues
  • advice on developing referred child’s early language skills at home
  • meeting with SENCo or foundation stage leader for a ‘surgery’, where children are discussed and advice is given during the session
  • support in schools to:
    • establish language groups
    • identify needs
    • support planning
    • demonstrate delivery
    • evaluate process
    • transfer skills to main class setting
  • access to a termly support group, SMARTI* (selective mutism assessment, resources, training and information)

Please note: SLCN team support is available as a ‘traded service’ for academies and free schools.

*SMARTI is a support group held termly for:

  • those caring for and working with children who have a diagnosis of selective mutism
  • those who demonstrate speech anxiety in certain situations

The group provides opportunities to network with others and to share ideas while providing and gaining support. A variety of resources and information to help with the management of this condition are on display in the form of:

  • handouts
  • books
  • toys an
  • voice recorders

Specialist advisors are available to discuss practical application.

An informal discussion is planned and organised for each session based on requested topics fed back by those attending.

Aimed at supporting both professionals and parents, discussions have included:

  • how to manage transitions
  • helping children to cope with anxiety,

Visiting speakers are sometimes organised to run the discussion such as educational psychologists and experts in the field such as Maggie Johnson.

When and where?

Sessions are led by staff from SENS and are held termly at:

St Joseph’s Primary School
Gardenia Avenue
Luton, LU3 2NS

For dates and time please contact SENS on 01582 548151 or

What do people who attend say about SMARTI?

‘I really enjoy going to the SMARTI meetings. It gives me an opportunity to meet other parents with children who are suffering with Selective Mutism. We are able to share our experience with an expert to guide us. These meetings have helped me to understand how my child feels and how to deal with difficult situations’.

‘I came to the question and answer session yesterday. It was fantastic’.
School staff

‘All the best with your wonderful work’.
Maggie Johnson – co author of Selective Mutism Resource Manual

Who to contact

Contact Name
Gold Coker
Contact Position
administrator for the Special Educational Needs Service

Further information on the speech, language and communication difficulties service

Where to go

The Leagrave Centre
Strangers Way

Other Details

Last updated 02/12/2021