LiLac Network

LiLaC researcher-practitioner workshops

These workshops are aimed at bringing together researchers and practitioners working in child literacy, language and communication disorders. They are organised by Courtenay Norbury, Mandy Grist, Professional Advisor for I CAN and Jean Wilson, Head of Speech and Language Therapy at Meath School. All meetings are free of charge and open to any professionals working with individuals with Literacy, Language and Communication needs.

Summaries of previous workshops

Summer 2015: ‘Blue skies thinking: what would provision ideally look like? What are the barriers?’

This workshop was held on the 3rd June 2015 at Meath School, Ottershaw. During the first half of the session, Courtenay presented some initial findings from the first wave of SCALES testing. Following this, attendies worked in small groups to brainstorm potential intervention studies and ideal models of provision. A copy of the programme is available here.

Autumn 2014: ‘English as an additional language: common strengths,  frequent challenges and distinguishing difference from disorder’

This workshop was held on the 4th November 2014 at Royal Holloway, University of London. Our guest speakers were Meesha Warmington, from the University of York, and Victoria Murphy, from the University of Oxford. Meesha presented her research on literacy and executive skills in Hindi-English bilingual children. Victoria discussed trends in language learning in children with English as an additional language and outlined some of the research that is being carried out by her lab. LiLaC lab member, Katie Whiteside, also presented some of her PhD research on risk factors for language difficulties in children with English as an additional language. In the last session of the workshop, all attendees discussed the challenge of assessing, and supporting, language and literacy skills in children with English as an additional language. A copy of the programme is available here.

Summer 2014: ‘Models of provision: who gets what and why?’

This workshop was held on the 18th June 2014 at Meath School in Ottershaw, Surrey. John Parrott started the meeting by giving a talk on SEN reforms. Professor Courtenay Norbury and Dr Susan Ebbels then discussed Universal, Targeted and Specialist provision for children with language difficulties. They presented a model on how to determine which level of provision individual children need. Finally, Professor Gabriella Vigliocco and Dr Marta Ponari outlined their research on how children process and learn abstract words. A copy of the programme is available here.

Autumn 2013: ‘What worries teachers about children’s early communication development’

This workshop was held at Royal Holloway, University of London on the 7th November 2013. Dr Courtenay Norbury presented some preliminary data from the screening phase of the Surrey Communication and Language in Education Study (SCALES). This was followed by a practitioner update where Speech and Language Therapists Angela Cosby and Nicola Kelly discussed an evaluation of a recent teacher intervention that they had carried out. A copy of the programme is available here.

Summer 2013: Evaluating interventions and progress (and the effect of non-verbal IQ)

This workshop was held on the 26th June 2013 at Meath School in Ottershaw.  The afternoon began with four interesting presentations from SLTs and teachers who have been evaluating their own interventions.  This was followed by discussion of appropriate measures for assessing students progress.  A copy of the programme is available here.

Autumn 2012: Language and learning

This workshop was held at Royal Holloway University on Thursday 8th November 2012. Our guest speakers were Dr. Matt Davis from the University of Cambridge and Dr Kathy Rastle from RHUL, and they presented their research investigating how people learn. After a tea break we discussed the implications of their research for education and clinical practice.

At the summer workshop we discussed how practitioners could evaluate their interventions.  We were keen to hear how you were getting on and to answer any questions you had, so we held a drop-in session in the morning.

Summer 2012: Evaluating your Interventions

This workshop was held at Meath School, Ottershaw and the topic was ‘Evaluating your interventions’.  A copy of the programme is available here.

Autumn 2011: Measuring Social Interaction and Social Communication

Dr Jenny Gibson, SLT, gave a presentation on the Manchester Inventory of Playground Observations (MIPO), detailing the interactions of children with language impairments, autism spectrum disorders and pragmatic difficulties. For journal club, we discussed Henry, Miller, & Nash (2011). Executive functioning in children with specific language impairment. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 53, 37-45. Lively discussion as usual and plenty of delicious cake!

Summer 2011: Language or Learning Impairment?

Mandy Grist gave an overview of an important new initiative for supporting language and communication skills for all students in secondary schools called ‘Secondary Talk’.

Specific language impairment expert Professor Dorothy Bishop from the University of Oxford then presented her recent work regarding learning in children with language impairments.

After tea, the journal club provided an opportunity to discuss language impairment awareness and research

Summer 2010: Research with Schools.

The programme is available here.

Winter 2009: Intervention for children with Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN)

A summary of the meeting can be found here.

Spring 2009: Making Links: Research and Practice.

The inaugural meeting was held on the 29th April 2009. A summary of the meeting can be found here.

Draft criteria for Language Impairment: Response to DSM-5 draft criteria for Communication Disorders

Courtenay chaired a panel of experts to draft criteria for Language Impairment in response to proposals put forward for DSM-5. Although DSM-5 does not necessarily have a huge impact here in the UK, we feel that it is important for Speech-Language Therapists to have a voice and we hope that if there is consensus on these criteria, there will be a document to which we can all refer in research and in securing specialist support for children with language impairments.

Please view the DSM-5_criteria_7June and for more information visit

The Great SLI debate: 31 May 2012

Courtenay took part in a debate at Moor House School discussing what the core diagnostic criteria for language impairments should be, including discussion of issues such as general cognitive ability, pragmatic language impairment and response to intervention. Please leave a comment below if you want to join the debate. Talks can be downloaded here:

Dorothy Bishop, genetic insights into classification

Claudine Bowyer Crane, response to intervention (NVIQ)

Vicky Slonims, distinguishing ASD & SLI

Courtenay Norbury, criteria for communication disorders:norbury_may2012

Susan Ebbels, summary


  1. Jacqueline Holden says:

    A rather belated thankyou for the very interesting morning’s discussion. My understanding now is that a) “non-verbal IQ tends to decrease with age with language disordered children” and that b)”NVIQ doesn’t predict response to language intervention and therefore shouldn’t be taken into account”.
    Regarding b) I would like clarification on what level of NVIQ we are talking about? Most SLI children are classified as having NVIQ >80 and most research use a minimum level of 70.
    Are we saying that NVIQ of 70 and above doesn’t appear to make a difference, or 80 and above or ANY NVIQ. I would find the latter hard to believe. Could someone please qualify what we are talking about when we say NVIQ doesn’t make a difference. Thankyou.

  2. Jessie Ricketts says:

    I just wanted to add my support to the draft criteria for language impairment, a clear and practical proposal.

  3. Shula Chiat says:

    I would query including verbal memory as a domain of difficulty, and suggest that it would be better to refer specifically to difficulties with repetition tasks. As specified in the proposals, verbal memory is very broad and difficult to assess. Repetition tasks, on the other hand, permit very tight assessment, and it is now clear that performance on these tasks draws on knowledge of linguistic forms and structures presented in repetition stimuli, which is important for our understanding of repetition tasks as clinical markers.

    On the above grounds, I suggest including repetition under ‘Vocabulary’ adding ‘difficulties in repeating novel or made-up words’ and under ‘Grammar and morphology’, adding ‘difficulties repeating sentences’, rather than having a separate category of verbal memory.

    As a minor point, I suggest adding ‘auxiliary verbs’ to the list of typical errors in grammatical marking.

  4. amit kulkarni says:

    my understanding of the research summarised at the debate was that non-verbal iq a) changes over time (and the scores of children with language impairments tends to go down as they get older) and b) does not predict response to language intervention or to teaching. have i understood this correctly? if so, i was wondering what impact this had on the entrance criteria you use at moor house? do you disregard info on nonverbal iq? if so, do you focus directly on response to intervention/teaching instead (as well as other areas e.g. key markers)?

  5. Susan Ebbels says:

    Thank you everyone for coming and contributing to our debate on 31st May. We felt it was very successful and only regret that we didn’t have more time to hear everyone’s views. Hopefully you will feel you can leave your comments here so that we can continue the debate on-line.

Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Summary of a debate on Specific Language Impairment « I CAN Communicate