Lack of SLC training for early years and school staff

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A survey of the children and young people’s workforce reveals a gap in initial training on children’s speech, language and communication needs.

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The Communication Trust survey highlights a gap in SEND training for those working in the early years

The Communication Trust’s survey of 1,200 of its members reveals that more than half (53 per cent), of the workforce have received ‘little’ or no learning in their initial training about typical speech, language and communication (SLC) development. Of these 49 per cent work in the early years. This is despite SLC being made a mandatory part of the Early Years Educator qualifications criteria in 2010.

The Trust surveyed staff that work in early years settings, primary and secondary schools - including SENCOs and teachers, as well as childminders.

The figures rise to 60 per cent for the children and young people’s workforce in learning about identifying and supporting children with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) – a subject area not covered in the EYE qualification, says the Trust.

Childminders - although just 16 took part in the survey - were least likely to have received training.

A breakdown of the findings show that those who work in the early years receive the most Continuing Professional Development (CPD) training around ‘typical SLC’ and identifying and supporting children with these needs.

Lack of budget and time were cited by respondents across the sectors as the most significant barriers to training.

More than three-quarters of childminders felt they needed a better understanding of the area.

However, the entire workforce was unanimous in recognising the importance of training to help children with SLCN.

The Communication Trust is now calling for:

  • all members of the children and young people’s workforce to have entry level training in SLC/SLCN;
  • Ofsted inspections to routinely report on support for SLC/SLCN provision;
  • training and workforce strategies to include working with parents to develop their knowledge and understanding of SLC/SLCN;
  • set out an expectation that all early years settings have at least one member of staff with a Level 3 qualification in SLC – Government should set a timeframe within which to achieve this.

Octavia Holland, director of The Communication Trust, said, ‘Early language skills are crucial for children’s learning and outcomes – as well to society and the economy. It is encouraging that the workforce recognises the value of speech, language and communication but cause for concern that they face real barriers in accessing initial and on-going training.

‘Bridging this training gap is the key to giving all children, especially those with speech, language and communication needs, the strong and lifelong skills that are vital to achieving their potential.’ 

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