Communication Strategies

Here at Fiveways we strongly believe that communication is the centre of all learning and the core focus for pupils throughout the curriculum. Everyone has the right to communicate and we strive to promote pupil choice, control and independence.

The specialist Communication and Interaction Team works collaboratively with staff and parents to break down individual barriers to communication, to develop their voice and reach their full potential. 

All pupils have a communication profile. This provides key information of an individual's level of communication ability and how best to support their speech, language and communication needs.

We offer a range of assessments and work with teachers to set and monitor personal learning targets. Pupils have the opportunity to access a range of tailored programmes to develop speech, expressive language, comprehension and social interaction skills. 


Inclusive Communication environment

Fiveways School strives to create supportive, inclusive communication environments. We embrace and value all forms of communication equally and emerge these strategies within our classrooms and areas across the school.

We are able to offer a range of specific alternative and augmentative communication (ACC) strategies. These include:



We use sign - supported English which is largely based on Makaton, Signalong and British Sign Language. Signing is immersed within our culture at the school to support both understanding and expressive language.


High - tech Voice Output Communication Aids (VOCA) 

These range from the use of a switch with a pre-recorded message such as 'Good Morning' through to devices that can say anything that a child might wish to say eg. request, comment, control, interact,    tell jokes and have fun.


Eye Gaze Technology

An infra-red camera that tracks exact movements of the pupil's eye. We use it for visual assessments as well as training students to use their eyes communicatively. Through eye gaze a student may develop their learning, their ability to play games and have fun, the possibility of controlling their environment and maybe to one day have their own dedicated voice output communication aid (VOCA). 


Objects of reference

An object is presented which has a particular meaning associated with it. For example, a fork may be the object of reference for dinner. The object is closely associated with and comes to represent another object, activity, person or event. These objects give the pupil information about what is going to happen. 


Musical Cues

These are auditory cues to enable a pupil to understand a transition and aid processing time. We have a standardised set of musical cues that are routinely used throughout the day.


Symbols / Photographs

A symbol or photo is a visual representation of an item, idea or concept. These are presented in may forms to provide supportive visual resources, including: timetables, 'first and then' strips, task sequences, social stories and talking mats. At Fiveways we use Widget Symbols through the Communicate in Print software.


PECS – Picture Exchange Communication System

PECS begins by teaching an individual to exchange a picture of a desired item to a “communicative partner”, who immediately honours the exchange as a request. The system goes on to teach discrimination of pictures and how to put them together in sentences. In the more advanced phases, individuals are taught to answer questions and to comment.


Communication books

These are similar to a PECS book because they contain lots of pictures/symbols but no exchange is required. The pupils can use their book to point at the pictures to communicate. In time they will learn to point out simple sentences and use their communication book to comment, to request and to answer questions. Communication books can be developed from something quite simple into a complex communication system.


Intensive interaction

Intensive interaction is an approach to teaching the pre-speech fundamentals of communication to children and adults who have severe learning difficulties and/or autism and who are still at an early stage of communication development.



Tacpac® is a revolutionary activity pack that combines touch and music to promote communication and social interaction, sensory neurological and emotional development


Links to communication websites:


Intensive Interaction -


Smartbox (Eye Gaze) -

Symbols –

Communication Matters –


If you wish to find out more about communication here at Fiveways, please contact:

The Speech & Language Department 

Claire Theobald - Communication and Interaction Lead -

Jane Tucker - Communication and Interaction Assistant -
01935 476227