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Talking About a Generation

Talking About a Generation - a review into current policy, evidence and practice for speech, language and communication

Talking About a Generation, a new report from The Communication Trust, explores the development of speech, language and communication skills in children and young people, and especially those who struggle to communicate.

It reviews recent developments in policy and practice affecting these children and young people, examining the impact of speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) on health and wellbeing, educational progress and employability beyond school. It presents case studies from around the country that show solutions to some of the challenges identified.

Talking About a Generation highlights research showing that by the age of five, 75% of children who experienced poverty persistently throughout the early years are below average in language development, compared to 35% of children who never experienced poverty. Up to 50% of children starting school in the most disadvantaged areas will have speech, language and communication needs (SLCN). In school-aged children the likelihood of being identified as having SLCN is 2.3 times greater for children eligible for free school meals and living in areas of disadvantage.

There is worrying evidence of under identification of SLCN across health and education services. Research tells us that 7.6% of children in the early primary years will have developmental language disorder – that is two children in every classroom. Analysis of the SEND data shows that only 2.6% of children are identified by the SEND system.

The Communication Trust is calling for concerted action around identification of, and support for, speech, language and communication needs with 19 recommendations for government, commissioners, regulators and practitioners:

  • As a matter of urgency, the government should consult on a new plan for the future of children’s centres which puts speech, language and communication at its heart.
  • Local areas (when developing their Education, Health and Care needs assessments) should compare the incidence of SLCN in schools with prevalence figures, and develop plans to tackle under identification – schools should similarly make these comparisons.
  • The government should include mandatory elements on developing all children and young people’s speech, language and communication skills in ITT (Initial Teacher Training).

Those working in the speech, language and communication sector - whether in commissioning, leading or delivering services – are also being urged to review the 13 case studies within Talking About a Generation and apply good practice in their local area.

You can view the full report, published on the 22nd March 2017, here.

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