Hill Croft School


Some of our therapies are provided by the Northern Health and Social Care Trust and take place on school premises:  Speech & Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy, Drawing and Talking Therapy and Counselling.  Find out more about information about each of these therapies below.




The speech and language therapist works with children who have communication and / or eating or drinking difficulties. This includes:

  • Spending time talking to parents/carers to find out the specific communication needs of their child and the impact of the communication difficulty on everyday life.
  • Assessing a child's communication ability. This assessment may occur in a variety of settings for example, at home, clinic or school.
  • Deciding if therapy / support is appropriate at this time and discussing these decisions with parents/carers.
  • Where therapy / support is appropriate, working jointly with parents/carers to devise agreed goals and discussing who is best to deliver the therapy. This could be SLT, education staff or parents.
  • Working with other professionals and members of the multidisciplinary team involved in a child's care.
  • Introducing other modes of communication, for example, the use of objects, pictures and signing as appropriate.
  • Providing parents/carers with the skills they need to support the continued development of their child's communication.
  • Evaluating the outcome of the intervention programme to determine if speech and language therapy has made a difference and if further therapy is required.


Speech and Language Therapy support may include:

  • Advice and information
  • Parent courses
  • Group therapy
  • Individual therapy
  • Home and / or school programmes
  • Training of other professionals involved with a child


For children experiencing difficulties with eating, drinking or feeding (dysphagia) the Speech and Language Therapist will support children by:

  • Carrying out a detailed assessment of a child's eating, drinking and swallowing skills in their home and where appropriate other settings such as school.
  • Offering guidance to ensure safe eating and drinking, using appropriate strategies that promote safe and adequate nutritional support.
  • Working with other members of the multidisciplinary team involved.




The role of the Children's Occupational Therapist (O.T.) is to encourage and maximise independence in activities of daily living (ADLs)  

The Children's Occupational Therapy service may address your child's needs in the following areas:

  •     Wheelchair
  •     Seating needs in home and/or school
  •     Equipment/environmental modification needs for home and/or school
  •     Transfers – toilet, bath, bed and chair
  •     Showering management
  •     Dressing skills
  •     Feeding utensils
  •     Fine motor development including pencil skills
  •     Sensory processing


Referrals are accepted from anyone with accompanying parental consent e.g. GP's, Paediatric Medical staff, Teachers, Parents/Carers or Social Services. Assessment (following parental consent) may include formal or informal assessment such as observation, as well as information gathering from parents, families and also liaison with other professionals within health and education settings.

Interventions include a range of possible ways of supporting your child, which may include one or more of the following:

  •     Direct therapy either on an individual/group basis;
  •     Provision of home/school treatment programme;
  •     Provision of specialist equipment to support functional skills
  •     Training for both teachers and parents
  •     Housing adaptations




Physiotherapists use specialised handling skills to help your child to reach their potential. Your physiotherapist will explain and teach exercises that will benefit your child. You may be asked to continue these exercises at home; therefore, it is important that you are happy with the exercise programme.

To help your child develop their physical skills and independence your physiotherapist will also give you specific advice on carrying and positioning, the use of specialist equipment as well as how to perform specific stretching and strengthening exercises where appropriate.

The amount of physiotherapy your child receives will vary greatly and depends on the needs of your child.  Older children may be encouraged to participate in leisure activities and join clubs that promote physical activity.


What is a Paediatric Physio?

This is a Physiotherapist with specialist knowledge of how children develop. They treat children and babies who have a variety of physical difficulties through exercise and movement. They work in partnership with families and other professionals.


What will the Physiotherapist do?

The physiotherapist will discuss any concerns that you may have regarding your child's physical development. They will then assess your child to see what movements/ exercises they can or cannot do. They may also look at how your child performs a particular movement/ activity. To do this effectively your child may need to be partially dressed during the sessions for the physiotherapist to complete their assessment.



What is drawing and talking therapy?

- It is a short term, non-intrusive, therapeutic intervention to support the social and emotional wellbeing of a child/young person.

- It is pupil centred and each session is pupil lead

- Its focus is on prevention, early intervention and recovery of mental health issues through therapeutic play

- Recommended as an intervention between/whilst waiting on referrals

Who is it for?

Children from 3 years and over who can scribble/make marks and talk about them.  They do not need to be Picasso!  Teenagers/ young people and more recently, adults are engaging with DTT and it is also being used for stroke patients and people with Dementia.  It is of great benefit to those who have suffered trauma e.g.

  • the covid pandemic.
  • those who have been/are in the process of being fostered/adopted/changing placements.
  • those who have experienced separation or divorce at home.
  • withdrawn pupils.
  • those experiencing high levels of anxiety or stress.
  • those pupils who struggle to make friends.
  • those who have/are experiencing bullying.
  • those struggling to manage their emotions in a healthy way.

The aim:

Our aim is to work through 3 stages, the initial stage, the conflict stage and the resolution stage.

Leading to:

  • reduced anxiety.
  • greater self esteem.
  • emotional resilience and improved mood.
  • ability to build connections and trust-better integration in class/family life.
  • learning how to build safe attachments and learning how to detach at the end of the process.

There are three types of DTT offered at Hill Croft:

  • 1:1 sessions -12 weeks for 20-30 minutes at the same time and same place each week so a safe attachment can be formed
  • Group sessions -small groups of 4-6 pupils/ small class groups over 6-8 weeks.  Each week pupils produce a drawing based on a given emotion and share their drawing with the group.  This is great for pupils who struggle to develop friendships with their peers or pupils who struggle with transitions e.g. moving class, moving house, leaving school, etc
  • Sand play- Sand play is a great alternative for younger pupils or those who struggle with their fine motor skills or ability to hold a pencil, but older pupils and adults enjoy it to.  Instead of using a page, pupils create a ‘picture’ in a sand tray using a range of mini figures, toys and objects.  At the end of each week, a photo is taken and placed in their personal file.



Junior School Counselling

Zoe Lutton, our junior counsellor, works through the Family Works organisation. They are based in Northern Ireland and offer support, advice, guidance and training to individuals, families and communities. ‘We employ a range of methods including counselling, mediation, coaching and supervision. We work with children, young people and adults.’ (Family works) https://familyworksni.com/about-us

Zoe has been linking with our school over the past few years which means she has been getting to know our young people and families so can support them when they are struggling. 

If you feel your child or family requires some support from Zoe please contact your child’s class teacher and they will be able to put you in touch with Zoe. We endeavour to assist the children as soon as possible.

Senior School Counselling

In our school we are very lucky to have Carlene McClelland who is a Children’s and Young Person’s Counsellor.

Carlene works for an organisation called Barnardo’s which is the biggest children’s service organisation in the province. She works as an ICSS school’s counsellor and looks after 5 schools through the week, Carlene is in our school every Thursday from 9.30am.  

If you feel you have unwanted thoughts or feelings and would like to talk to someone in a safe and confidential space, pop in and see Carlene or ask the teacher if you can come and talk to Carlene. She is here to help, support and guide you, if you have any questions please get in contact. She looks forward to seeing you.