A new report by Speech and Language UK, Listening to Unheard Children, identifies “a shocking rise in speech and language challenges” with one in five pupils at primary and secondary schools struggling to talk and understand words.
The report stresses the far-reaching impact of speech and language difficulties on all areas of life; children with these challenges “are six times more likely to fail English tests at 11 and eleven times less likely to pass maths. They are also twice as likely to have a mental health problem, and twice as likely to be unemployed as an adult”.
Like Speech and Language UK, we strongly believe that every child should receive the speech and language support they need to reach their full potential.
This is why we developed our Speech Link and Language Link packages: to empower schools to identify and support all children with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN).
Available to schools in annual subscriptions, our Speech Link package allows schools to unpick and address the speech difficulties of 4-8-year-olds and our Language Link packages – Infant, Junior and Secondary - to assess and support the language needs of pupils aged 4-14 years.
Our packages fulfil the report’s key recommendations in the following ways:
- Provision of ‘a tool for schools to track talking and understanding words’: Language Link’s standardised language assessments allow school staff to quickly and objectively screen all students and track their progress, while Speech Link’s screen enables schools to unpick the needs of any child with unclear speech.
- ‘Train all teachers and early years practitioners to spot which children are struggling with talking and understanding’: Speech & Language Link train and inform school staff via our in-package training and CPD courses, The Link Speech and Language CPD, so that they are more equipped to spot and support children with SLCN. Additionally, we provide schools with a wealth of resources for identifying and supporting SLCN including a termly magazine, blogs and webinars.
- ‘Produce guidance for teachers and schools about what evidence-based tools and programmes work for children with speech and language challenges, especially those that can be delivered by schools without specialist support’ – Speech & Language Link’s therapists designed our evidence-based intervention programmes to be delivered by school support staff. Everything that is needed to run group and individual sessions, including plans and resources is provided. Our programmes are accompanied by video and written guides as well as termly live webinars from our team of speech and language therapists. Staff also have unlimited access to our Speech and Language Help Desk team. Our impact reports demonstrate the progress students make following Speech Link and Language Link interventions.
- ‘Making sure there is enough specialist support available for children with life-long challenges and bringing down the 25% vacancy rate for children’s speech and language therapists in the NHS year-on-year’ – Speech Link and Language Link allow schools to quickly and easily screen students. Assessment results instantly identify which of our small group interventions are suitable for those with mild to moderate needs and which children require discussion with speech and language therapy services.
Our packages are designed to work alongside the school’s SaLT services to reduce waiting lists and referrals and support caseload management by alleviating the pressure on the NHS.
Speech & Language Link’s whole-school approach aims to ensure that no student falls under the radar, that those with severe needs are referred for specialist SaLT discussion and that EVERY student reaches their full potential.
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