Written evidence submitted by Communication and Learning Enterprises Limited (CandLE)


Web: www.candleaac.org


Communication and Learning Enterprises (www.candleaac.org) offers services throughout the UK to Local Authorities, schools, and families where students with complex communication needs are learners. Most have additional needs such as physical disabilities and/or learning difficulties. We are increasingly being asked to support home education packages for students in this cohort. The students often rely on Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). This means that they will use electronic communication aids with voice output or paper-based communication systems on which they point to options.

We have pioneered a system of using software traditionally provided to support communication to help students to better access literacy and curriculum support and our provision is growing through the UK and beyond.

It has been our experience that many students in the cohort with which we work are often badly let down by the education provided to them by Local Authorities. We have found this to be the case whether those students attend mainstream schools or special schools. Mainstream schools almost universally lack the highly specialist expertise required provide appropriate curriculum adaptation, communication support, physical environment, and social and emotional support. Special schools, except for a few where AAC is given a focus, lack expertise in the learning needs of students who rely on AAC and often undervalue their learning potential. Additionally, special schools can become overly focussed on communication to the detriment of the provision of literacy and learning opportunities. This has led to many parents feeling they have no choice but to home educate.

More recently, CandLE have been approached by several Local Authorities with a view to providing specialist services where they have concluded that home education is the most appropriate provision for students who need an educational package that is so tailored that it cannot be provided in a school setting. We have created an Education Otherwise Teaching Assistant (EOTA) programme to support this kind of endeavour which is flexible to the needs of each individual student. This involves providing input from an AAC Teaching Assistant (AACTA) and an AAC Teacher Coordinator (AACTC) who provide the necessary support to ensure that the student learns to their optimal capability. They do this by providing the learning materials in such a way that the student can independently access their learning in the most time efficient way. This increases the capacity of working memory so that the student can achieve at the highest possible level and increase their cognitive capacity to the full.

The AACTA and AACTC are roles that CandLE have created in response to the lack of expertise around the needs of students who rely on AAC. CandLE can either offer training to existing staff in schools so that they develop in-house skills or, more often, local authorities and schools’ contract in CandLE services so that CandLE trained teaching staff perform these roles. These roles are now expanding into home education as this option appears to be rapidly growing.

We believe that home education should be regarded as a valid option which is fully funded by Local Authorities and can then be monitored through inspection services in the same way that schools are, being mindful of the elective or selective learning elements in home education. It is common for students who rely on AAC to follow a reduced curriculum and/or one that is studied over a longer period of time so that they can better meet the learning goals and home education is ideally placed to enable this in a flexible way.

One consideration with home education is the concern that students might become socially isolated. It is our experience than many student who rely on AAC become socially isolated in all setting and that this needs addressing at a systemic level by educating peers and professionals in the students lives and ensuring that inclusion services become involved such as www.inclusive-solutions.com . Bringing home education into mainstream provision of education would additionally enable the strengthening of supporting groups where the social needs of students can be catered for.


Marion Stanton MA (ed. Tech.), Adv. Dip. Ed. (special). PGCE

AAC specialist advisory teacher

November 2020