The University of Newcastle, Australia

Speech Pathology in Schools (SPinS) Program

The Speech Pathology in Schools (SPinS) model of service delivery run by Newcastle University was developed in response to the dual needs of (1) provision of relevant clinical education placements for speech pathology students and; (2) appropriate service provision for school-aged children with communication difficulties.

The program works on a collaboration basis between the class teachers and the speech pathology students and their clinical educator. The students and their supervisor attend the school one day per week. Assessment and intervention takes place via a number of forms including, individual and group sessions, within the classroom or SPinS room (situated at the school) as well as through providing teachers with classroom strategies. The students also have opportunities to in-service the teachers.

Many of the children seen through the SPinS program have moderate to severe language delays, and struggle to keep pace with literacy instruction. They are at risk of becoming disengaged with learning. Research tells us that young children’s’ attitudes to school and how they see themselves as learners, are formed within the first few months of school. We also know that changing negative attitudes is not easy. Nor is it easy for young learners who fall behind their peers, to ‘catch up’ in their academic achievements.

To use a local school as an example where in the SPinS program is currently underway, out of the 37 Kindergarten and Year One children the students screened at the beginning of the year, 13 had a language delay in the moderate to severe range and are currently receiving weekly therapy. That’s around one third of the children from each class that are at risk of becoming learning disabled.

A Speech Pathologist is trained to identify, assess and treat children with a speech and/or language delay. The SPinS model of service delivery is especially valuable because:

  • Due to the long waiting lists at Community Health Centres, school aged children are not seen as priority for assessment and therapy. (Some centres have closed their books to school aged children.)
  • Many of the children requiring therapy are chronic non-attenders at Community Health when they do receive an appointment or block of therapy.
  • The program provides invaluable experience for the speech pathology students, not only in conducting assessments and therapy, but also in working with teachers and other support staff.

If you are interested in applying to have the SPinS program in your school, please email Joanne Walters at the address below.


Joanne Walters
Clinical Education Coordinator
Speech Pathology
Faculty of Education & Arts
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
The University of Newcastle
Callaghan 2308

02 49217350
F  02 49217386