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Hey... it's okay to stammer. Supporting variations in the way we talk.

Welcome to our webpage which supports our stammering project with schools in Barnsley


What is stammering?

Stammering is a way of talking caused by subtle neurological differences.  It is not caused by nervousness or lack of intelligence. People may repeat sounds or words, stretch sounds or get stuck so the sound won’t come out.  Sometimes this may be accompanied by extra movements, gasping or tension.

Stammering can also be about how someone feels on the inside. Negative feelings like shame, embarrassment, isolation, fear, anxiety and frustration may accompany the stammering and the person feels the need to hide their stammer.   This is often driven by the negative reactions from others, for example, being laughed at or ridiculed.  Even the language we use to talk about stammering has an effect on people e.g. saying ‘he has a really ‘bad’ stammer’ implies that stammering is not desirable.

If people were more understanding and accepting of stammering, more patient and kind, then people who stammer might feel more comfortable with their talking.

We want to take the first steps to make Barnsley a place where children and adults say “Hey… It’s OK to stammer” and celebrate the diverse ways we communicate.

The project

We have used charitable funding to purchase a children’s book for every school in Barnsley.  The Boy Who Made Everyone Laugh, by Helen Rutter tells the story of a child who stammers and how he faces his fears and finds he is OK with who he is.

We know from talking to adults who stammer that their experiences in childhood can continue to affect them as adults, in terms of their mental health, academic success and work prospects.  We hope that this project will support schools in changing the perception of stammering and to provide a happier, safe communication environment for children who stammer. The project will mean that children who stammer will grow up with a peer group who know and accept stammering as a different way of talking.

Stage 1 focuses on primary schools and stage 2 will focus on secondary schools and special schools.  Primary schools should already have received their book.  We eventually hope that talking about stammering can be embedded in the curriculum as part of conversations around difference and these resources will provide you with the means of running a rolling program.

We hope you are able to support this project pro-actively so that we can really change the experiences of children who stammer.  To help with this, we have brought together a number of resources which we hope you can use to stimulate discussion about stammering in the context of individual differences and the impact of teasing and bullying.   We are very grateful to Mel Hedley at Cherrydale primary school for her support in developing primary lesson plans and Ryan Purdy at The Dearne ALC who will be providing the same for secondary pupils.


  • This Project overview is a summary of the project.  You may find it helpful for sharing with other staff in school, or to help you explain the project to parents of children who stammer and also for children who stammer if they want to know more about the project.


  • We know that there is lots of information on this resource page.  We have put together this checklist that you can print out to help you plan what you can do to support the project. Checklist for planning


  • As a first step, we strongly recommend that you download this letter for parents Letter to parents The letter outlines the project and ensures that all parents of children who stammer are aware of the project and asks them to contact their child’s class teacher to agree how their child will be supported.  If you are aware of any children who stammer in your school, you may find this advice sheet helpful. How can I support the children who stammer


  • This 15 minute video is for class teachers, although we would love for all adults who work in schools to watch it.  It provides information about stammering, what helps a person who stammers and will support staff with delivering information to their students.


  • This 20 minute video for students explains about stammering and the impact of being teased.  The video has been co-produced by some young people in Barnsley who stammer and includes some powerful messages about their experiences.  This video could be used in a year group assembly, or a classroom discussion. We think this is most appropriate for years 5 and 6.



  • We are very grateful to Mel Hedley, Special needs co-ordinator at Cherrydale school who has helped us to develop some lesson plans and activities to support our goals for changing the perception of stammering.


  • We want to make sure that this book is in every school library in Barnsley.  If you would like to create a classroom or library display, you can use these resources.  We would love to see pictures of what you and your pupils create.


  • For a fun activity for your pupils, download this wordsearch Stammering wordsearch .  Thanks to Alfie Maddy for his help designing this activity.
    • We hope to add more fun activities soon


  • You can make small changes to create a stammer friendly classroom and change the classroom experience for a child who stammers.
    • This 5 minute video for teaching staff will provide ideas for how to create a stammering friendly classroom




We also recommend these resources for creating a stammer friendly classroom.

    • An excellent video called ‘ Wait wait, I’m not finished yet’ from the Michael Palin centre. You can hear young people who stammer talk about what they want teachers to know.  Wait wait video
    • Our departmental handout for teachers who work with children who stammer Advice for teachers
    • ‘Stammerteacher’ is a maths teacher who stammers. Here he provides a poster about what teachers should know I wish my teacher knew…..  This would be a great poster to display in the staff room.
    • Here Stammerteacher provides advice for making reasonable adjustments in the classroom Creating a safe environment for a child who stammers and Reasonable adjustments in the classroom
    •  Tips for teachers – A video from Abed Ahmed, a maths teacher offering advice for supporting young people who stammer at school.  This is a short 3 minute video providing really helpful ideas.


  • Would you like to learn more about how the language we use to describe stammering might contribute to the negative perceptions of stammering?  Stamma have recently created a great campaign to highlight the need to be aware of the language we use.
    • A video describing a project to remove all negative language about stammering from wikipedia It’s how we talk
    • I don’t need to be fixed – A video from people who stammer explaining what they wish people knew about stammering, produced by Airedale NHS foundation  Trust

Further resources


We are really keen to try to measure the effectiveness of this project.  If you are able to help us with this, please email


We hope that this project will support school in changing the perception of stammering and so provide a happier, safer communication environment for children who stammer. Thank you for your support.






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