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ELCISS aims to enhance language and communication in secondary school children with primary language and communication impairment through narrative/storytelling and vocabulary enrichment.

Victoria L. Joffe

Senior Lecturer in developmental speech, language and communication difficulties, principal investigator on the ELCISS research programme.

Qualifications: B.A. (Honours) Speech and Hearing Therapy (Witwatersrand, S.A.) Cum Laude; L.T.C.L. ( Licentiate Teacher) Speech and Drama (Trinity College, London); D.Phil (Experimental Psychology) (Oxon).


I am a specialist speech and language therapist and senior lecturer in developmental speech, language and communication difficulties in the Division of Language and Communication Science at City University London. I am also an associate dean for taught postgraduate studies in the School of Health Sciences at City University.

I obtained my Honours degree with distinction in Speech and Language Therapy and Audiology in the Department of Speech and Hearing Science at University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa. I enjoyed my time at university a great deal, making firm and long term friends and finding the area in which I wanted to devote my time, i.e. working with students with speech, language and communication difficulties.

Initially, I worked in a hospital setting in both Audiology and Speech and Language Therapy and also took up a post as a Lecturer in the Department of Speech and Hearing Therapy at the University of the Witwatersrand. I was then fortunate enough to be granted a scholarship from Rhodes University to continue my studies anywhere abroad.

What a choice to have! I chose to come to the UK and I went on to obtain a D.Phil. degree in the Department of Experimental Psychology, The University of Oxford. I had the wonderful opportunity of working with Professor Peter Bryant on the relationship between oral language ability, metalinguistic awareness, reading and spelling ability in language impaired children. During this time, I also had the pleasure of working with Dr Lynette Bradley and Professor Julie Dockrell.

My areas of clinical and research interest include specific language impairment, child speech disorder, the interface between education and speech and language therapy, the relationship between language, metalinguistic awareness and literacy, language and communication intervention in secondary school students and evidence-based practice for children and young people with special educational needs.

I have recently completed the Nuffield funded intervention research project on Enhancing Language and Communication in Secondary School (ELCISS) students with language and communication impairments through narrative and vocabulary enrichment. I felt very honoured to be the primary investigator on the ELCISS project and am thrilled that it is able to continue and expand through subsequent grants obtained from The Communication Trust and local educational authorities.

There is a significant lack of research in the adolescent language impaired population and we know little about the nature and type of speech, language and communication impairments in this group and what the effective ways are of enhancing language and communication. The ELCISS project continues to provide further insights into this area and it is a very exciting project of which to be a part.

Whilst working on the ELCISS project I have had the opportunity to meet and talk with many secondary school teachers, learning support assistants, SENCOs, secondary school students and their parents. All of us on the project have been overwhelmed by the hospitality of schools, commitment of teaching and support staff, and insights from students and their families. It is truly a great joy and privilege to be working on this project.

In addition to my work at City University, I am a speech and language therapy consultant, trustee and governor at the Link School, a primary and secondary school for students with special educational needs. I am also a trustee of ICAN, a children's communication charity.

I am currently working as an associate editor for the Journal of Language, Speech and Hearing Services in Schools. I am also a member of the editorial board for the Journal of Evidence-Based Communication Assessment and Intervention. In addition, I am a reviewer for a range of grant bodies (ESRC, Wellcome Trust, The British Academy) and National (Child Language Teaching and Therapy, Journal of Child Language) and International journals (American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders).

I act as a speech and language therapy partner for the Health Professions Council and have recently been appointed as a trustee and councillor for Research and Development at the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT). I work as the chair of the RCSLT's National Special Interest Group for Older Children and Young Adults with Speech, Language and Communication Needs. I also work as a consultant to a number of trusts across London, including Hackney on their Bercow Pathfinder programme on developing and piloting a cross service outcome tool. I have been involved in providing speech and language input and advice to the media around young offenders. In addition, I work as an external examiner at the Department of Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading and St Martin's College, Lancaster University.

I have received a Teaching and Learning award from City University for student support for an innovative speech and language therapy outreach project run in collaboration with a secondary school in Merton. This secondary school outreach programme has developed extensively and is now a major clinical placement for our speech and language therapy students.

I also provide training and insets to Speech and Language Therapy Primary Care Trusts, Local Educational Authorities and schools on a range of areas including the role of language in literacy, assessment and treatment of phonological disorders, language and communication disorders, evidence-based practice, collaborative practice: teachers and therapists working together and working with language impaired students in the secondary school context.

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