Inquiry launched into why more than half of children with language disorders are not identified in primary schools

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I CAN, the UK children’s communication charity, and the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) have launched an inquiry into why more than half of children with language disorders are still not identified in primary schools.

The inquiry will feed into Bercow: Ten Years On — a follow-up review of the progress made in provision for children with speech and language difficulties since the publication of The Bercow Report in 2008.

Jean Gross CBE, former Government Communication Champion for Children, will chair the review. She said:

It’s shocking that almost ten years after John Bercow’s report so many children are not being identified in schools when good language and communication skills are so vital for learning.

We need to find out why. Is it because schools suspect there might be a problem, but struggle to get advice now that speech and language therapists and advisory teachers are thin on the ground? And what is happening to identify children before they start school? The Bercow: Ten Years On review will tell us, and help us understand what might need to change at both a local and national level to get children the help they need.

The Surrey Communication and Language in Education Study (SCALES) project, led by University College London, found that approximately two children in every Year 1 class (7.6%) experience a clinically significant language disorder that impacts learning. Yet Department for Education (DfE) data from the same year reports that only three per cent of children in Year 1 were identified by schools as having speech, language and communication needs (SLCN).

I CAN says that as a result more than half of children with language disorder are being missed and far too many children who struggle to talk, understand and communicate their thoughts are at risk of not receiving the crucial support they need.

To kick-start the review, I CAN and RCSLT are inviting individuals and organisations to make written submissions sharing their experiences of the reality of SLCN support and the impact of this for children and their families. Evidence will be gathered from a range of practitioners, parents/carers and young people as well as service managers and employers, and experts in the field.

Bercow: Ten Years On is scheduled to be published in early 2018 and is likely to include strong recommendations for change.

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