Who are you?

SILSA has been developed by Chris and Hilary Platt. We are both experienced Speech and Language Therapists who have been working with children, and in schools, for longer than we care to remember.

We also run Springboard Speech and Language Ltd which is a successful independent Speech and Language Therapy practice operating in South East Hampshire. See www.springboardspeech.org.uk for further details. Chris and Hilary are both members of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT), and are registered as practicing Speech and Language Therapists with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC):

Who is SILSA and the SILSA Programme for?

SILSA refers to all the training / support we offer – from one off short training sessions for schools to the SILSA Programme.

Our school training is suitable for all school staff or can be delivered to teaching assistants / support staff and teachers separately.

The ELKLAN training is suitable for teaching assistants / support staff, SENCOs and teachers who will have a specialist role for language development / SLCN.

The SILSA training is extension training for those who have completed the ELKLAN 5-11s course. It is designed for teaching assistants who have or will have a lead role for SLCN in a school. Teaching assistants who complete the SILSA training can be a ‘SILSA’ (Speech, Interaction and Language Support Assistant) by joining the SILSA Programme – our dedicated ongoing programme for teaching assistants / support staff. These may be teaching assistants who already carry out screening assessments or run programmes like Talk Boost, NELI or Language Link, but no prior experience is necessary. Please see the FAQ ‘What skills do I need to complete the SILSA Training Programme / be a SILSA?’ for information about who may be best suited to this role.

Who can I talk to about school training?

Contact us at hello@silsatraining.org.uk and we will be happy to arrange a time to speak with you and discuss training options.

Can training be provided online?

All short (75 – 90 minute) training sessions can be provided online. We are not currently offering half or whole day training, ELKLAN, or SILSA Programme training online though this may change in future / if there is sufficient interest.

How much does training cost?

The aim of SILSA is to provide high quality training and support at a cost that is affordable even for small schools and limited school budgets.

Costs will vary by provider / location, but the full SILSA Programme for the first year, including all training, accrediation and support, will be less than £1,000 and annual renewal subscriptions less than £500. Discounts are available if an assistant has completed relevant ELKLAN training already, and also if a school has more than one SILSA.

The cost of additional in-school training that may be commissioned will depend on the time required and the topic requested. As a guide a short training session (75 – 90 minutes) will be around £120 with half-day or whole-day training around £200 / £400.

* Plus travel costs if outside of our standard travel area.

Please note that as part of the full SILSA course participants will learn to use a range of different screening assessments. Some of these assessments we have developed ourselves, e.g. our Speech Sound Assessment, and these will be provided free of charge to SILSAs.  Other assessments are published and will need to be purchased by the school at a one-off cost of around £250. This cost will be reduced if school own any of the screening assessments already or can access suitable alternatives. We have negotiated a discount on some of these assessments via Routledge – please ask for details of this.

How much does the annual SILSA subscription cost?

Prices will vary by provider but for SILSAs who have completed the first year of training the annual subscription / renewal will be under £500. This covers the half-termly support sessions, the annual study day, and the whole school training. If a school has more than one SILSA then additional subscriptions are discounted by £100 (or schools can pay the full price and receive an extra in-school training session for each full subscription purchased).

When is the next course running?

The next courses are scheduled to start in the 2023 Autumn Term. 

Can I just do the ELKLAN course?

Yes it is possible to just do the ELKLAN course with us. You would then have the option of adding on the additional SILSA training and joining a SILSA network either immediately after or in the future.

Where are SILSA courses running?

SILSA is already running in South East Hampshire with schools who have accessed training clustered around Portsmouth, Fareham, Southampton and the nearby towns / villages. A new SILSA course is due to start in Portsmouth in September 2023.

SILSA will also be provided in:

County Antrim, Northern Ireland via Let’s Expand Communication Ltd.


Please contact Ruth Crampton for more information – ruth@expandingcommunication.org

Bradford / Leeds via Hummingbird SLT


Please contact Caroline Mpiana for more information – caroline@hummingbirdslt.co.uk


I would like to be a SILSA / have a SILSA in my school but the programme is not running in my area?

Please register your interest by emailing us at hello@silsatraining.org.uk If a number of schools in an area / an academy trust would like to access the SILSA Programme then we may be able to find a suitable therapist local to you who could provide the training on our behalf. Alternatively, we may be able to consider online training / a hybrid of online and in-person training (depending on location)

What skills do I need to complete the SILSA Training / be a SILSA?

An interest in Speech and Language development and SLCN is probably the most important pre-requisite. It is also important to consider:

– Do you have the time to complete the course? The training time will be during school hours as will any practical tasks that need to be completed. However, writing up the Learning Log (part of the 10-week ELKLAN course) is likely to involve some time outside of school.

– Do you want to complete the more formal and assessed parts of the course? The ELKLAN Learning Log can be studied at Level 2 or 3, with Level 3 being preferred for SILSAs. In terms of learning demand / complexity Level 2 is broadly equivalent to GCSE and Level 3 to A-Level (although the workload is less). The additional SILSA training is pitched at a similar level (but without the need to complete accreditation / a Learning Log).

– Do you have the organisational skills needed to be a SILSA? How a SILSA works will vary from school to school, but you can expect to have organisational demands such as timetabling interventions, keeping brief records of what support you provided and progress the child has made, and sending out / collecting in referral forms if a pupil needs to be referred to Speech and Language Therapy.

How can I use a SILSA most effectively in my school?

Having a SILSA (or SILSAs – many primary schools opt to have one SILSA for EYFS / KS1 and one for KS2) can be of great benefit to schools, but only if the SILSA is supported in their work. This includes:

– SILSAs having the time to attend training and supervision.

– SILSAs having dedicated time in school each week when they can carry out interventions and assessments.

– Having a plan for how / when / where the SILSA will work within school, what records you want them to keep, and how their input contributes to the school’s broader SEN provision.

– Allocating a small budget for the occasional purchase of a published resource / equipment.

If you are a school where an ELSA is working successfully already, then broadly what is required to enable the ELSA to be effective will be the same for your SILSA.

I would like to train as a SILSA but I completed ELKLAN a few years ago / somewhere else?

If you completed the ELKLAN 5-11s course within 15 months of the SILSA training starting then you can simply join the SILSA training when it begins. It does not matter where you completed the training / who you completed it with as long as you successfully completed your Portfolio / Learning Log and gained accreditation.

If you completed the ELKLAN course more than 15 months ahead of the SILSA training, but after 2012, then you will need to attend an ELKLAN ‘refresher’ training day hosted by us. In both cases we will need to see evidence that you completed the course and gained accreditation (at Level 2 or 3). If you completed ELKLAN training in 2012 or earlier then you will need to repeat the ELKLAN course as it was such a long time since you attended the training, and you will likely have completed a previous version of the course. 

What if a SILSA leaves or changes their role in school?

We hope that this is a rare occurrence and that having a SILSA role, with the training and responsibility that provides, will support staff retention. We also hope that SILSAs find their role interesting and rewarding and so want to continue with it. However, inevitably staff move on or change roles from time to time and it is important to have a plan in place should that happen.

If a SILSA leaves / changes roles within 12 months of completing the SILSA training then school can enrol a new member of staff onto the next available training and will only need to pay what the cost would have been for the SILSA renewal (currently £399) meaning there is no additional cost to school at all.

If a SILSA leaves / changes roles more than 12 months, but less than 36 months, after completing the SILSA training then school can enrol a new member of staff onto the next available training and receive a 50% discount on the total cost.

If a SILSA leaves / changes roles more than 3 years after completing the training then full costs will apply.

Do we need to obtain consent for pupils who will receive SILSA support?

If a child needs to be referred to an outside agency (whether Speech and Language Therapy or another agency) then parental consent is nearly always required. However, SILSA is an in-school provision and would be part of your school offer in the same way as maths support, or a reading or hand-writing programme. Consequently, most schools have not asked for consent for pupils to be seen by their SILSA. However, they have typically informed parents of this e.g. through a letter explaining what SILSA is and how their child will be involved. We encourage this and parents have been positive about the approach.

Within supervision sessions SILSAs may raise a clinical query e.g. ‘do you have any suggestions for….’ However, this is confidential with no personally identifying information being shared. Additionally, at this stage the Speech and Language Therapist will only be offering general advice and suggestions as they have not seen or assessed the child. The therapist will not be keeping records (although SILSAs are encouraged to take their own notes) and consent is not required.

If the Speech and Language Therapist is asked to see the child or provide more specific advice / consultation in future (see ‘What if a pupil needs to be seen by a Speech and Language Therapist?) then parental consent will be required at that point.

We already have Language Link / Talk Boost / NELI….

Great! SILSA aims to work alongside and extend, rather than replace, existing provision you may have in place. See our SILSA Programme page for further details of how this can work. Given the training they will receive, your SILSA will be perfectly placed to run these other interventions (please note that additional training from the provider of those interventions may be required in order for them to do so).

Can the SILSA Programme training be spread over more than one year?

Yes this is possible – for example a teaching assistant could complete ELKLAN training one year and then the additional SILSA training the next.

What if a pupil needs to be seen by a Speech and Language Therapist?

A key aim of having a SILSA is to develop school’s capacity to identify and support pupils with mild to moderate SLCN ‘in house’. Inevitably though there will be pupils with more severe needs who require assessment / advice from a Speech and Language Therapist. Local referral procedures and guidelines should be followed for this. Where children have more specialist needs and are following advice / a programme from Speech and Language Therapy, a SILSA’s training will help them to carry that out and to be a key point of contact for the Speech and Language Therapist.

We are aware that it can be difficult to access Speech and Language Therapy and that waiting times can be long. Springboard Speech and Language provide a cost-effective pay-as-you-go service. Whilst this is limited / subject to availability, schools with a SILSA are given priority and also receive a 20% discount on all pay-as-you-go costs.

What resources come with the SILSA Programme?

During the initial SILSA training participants will learn to use a range of screening assessments. Published assessments will need to be purchased by school (see costs above) but we will provide our own Speech Sound Assessment, Information Carrying Words assessment, and Language Concepts assessment at no extra charge. We will also signpost SILSAs to good places where resources can be obtained either free or at low cost. This includes online resources if SILSAs are in a position to use online games and activities during their sessions.  Additionally, we are developing our own range of therapy resources that will be made available, free of charge, to SILSA schools.

I am a Speech and Language Therapist – can I deliver the SILSA Programme?

We have designed the SILSA Programme to be scalable and want to see it grow so that it can benefit as many children and schools as possible.

Key to SILSA is having an experienced therapist as the provider. If you are interested in offering the SILSA Programme in your area please contact us if:

– You are experienced in successfully providing ELKLAN 5-11s training.

– You have a minimum of 5 years experience working as a Speech and Language Therapist within mainstream primary schools and with children with a range of SLCN.

– You enjoy training and supervising others.

– You share our values around providing effective and evidence-based training at an affordable cost for schools.

Can the SILSA Programme be used within the NHS?

Absolutely. Just like ELKLAN training, the SILSA Programme can be provided by NHS and Independent Therapists alike. Please contact us if you would like to consider providing the SILSA Programme within your service.