Capacity to support young low-progress readers at school: Experiences of speech-language pathologists Academic Article uri icon


  • There is a complex interplay between expectations for speech-language pathologists based in primary schools to work with low-progress readers and various factors that may preclude this from actually occurring. This qualitative study investigated experiences and perspectives of nine Australian speech-language pathologists based in primary schools about their capacity to work with low-progress readers. Building on previous quantitative research, this study supported a relatively even split of those who do and do not work with such children. Moreover, thematic analysis revealed that speech-language pathologists face many more barriers than facilitators when attempting to become a member of written language support teams within schools. Facilitators included having a personal interest in reading difficulty as well as working in an environment supportive of speech-language pathology input for low-progress readers. Barriers to working with or participating in teams to support low-progress readers involved factors such as time constraints, resistance from educational colleagues, and a theoretical divide about reading difficulty between educators and speech-language pathologists. Suggested strategies to enhance school-based speech-language pathologists' capacity to operate as key supports for struggling readers are discussed. These include approaches such as aiming to create a more transparent role definition, professional advocacy, and increasing interdisciplinary collaborations at schools.

publication date

  • December 2013