Prime Minister urged to create long-term strategy for children with SLCN

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I CAN and the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists are calling on the incoming PM to commit to a cross-government strategy to support children with speech, language and communication needs.

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I CAN and the RCSLT are concerned that the Government is failing the 1.4 million children with SLCN

Their call follows the issue of a Government response to their Bercow Review: Ten Years On, first anniversary update, which highlighted the progress that has been made in improving provision for children’s speech, language and communication needs in England since the original review was published 10 years ago.

The joint response from the departments for Education, Health and Social Care and the Ministry of Justice reaffirms their commitment to supporting children and young people with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) and sets out the work they have already undertaken. However, it also recognises that more work is needed.

I CAN and the RCSLT say they are concerned that the system is continuing to fail the 1.4 million children and young people with SLCN and claim that evidence of this has further grown since the publication of Bercow: Ten Years on.

They go on to cite research demonstrating this including, the Children’s Commissioner for England report, ‘We need to talk: Access to speech and language therapy’, published in June, which found ‘enormous’ levels of variation in reported spending on speech and language services. Department for Education figures last week also showed that across all pupils with SEN, speech, language and communication needs is now the most common type of need.

I CAN and the RCSLT are now calling on the incoming Prime Minister to pledge to:

  • Create a fully funded, long-term strategy for children with SLCN.
  • Make sure that services for children with SLCN are jointly commissioned by health, social care, youth justice and education.
  • Provide sufficient funding for speech and language therapy so that no child or young person is left behind.

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Chief executive of I CAN Bob Reitemeir said, ‘In recent years we have seen huge strides forward in provision for children’s early language and receiving a response written jointly by health, education and justice shows an appreciation of the need for a cross-departmental approach.

‘However, Government recognises there is more to do. It can’t be right that many children and young people with speech, language and communication needs are still having their needs missed.’

Kamini Gadhok, chief executive of the RCSLT, said, ‘Far too many children and young people with speech, language and communication needs are not getting the input they deserve. This has a profound effect on their ability to access the curriculum, to form relationships, to develop healthy self-esteem and ultimately get on in life. 
 
‘The new Prime Minister needs to create a long-term strategy for these children and make sure that they receive the consistent support they need to thrive. This strategy must be properly funded and support successful joint commissioning locally.’

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